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Snapdseed update version 2.13 brings improved RAW support and UI

Snapseed is a favorite among users and we even listed it in our 15 top photo editor apps, so it is always good news when we see good features coming to the simple, yet advanced image tuner. Today we are seeing an update to version 2.13, which brings forth UI and RAW support improvements.

Snapdseed update version 2.13 brings improved RAW support and UIThe most important change is that users are no longer limited to swiping up and down to change parameters. Instead, one can tap on the bottom adjust button to bring up a tap-enabled parameters menu. Then you can easily swipe left and right to make your edits, as you always have.

In addition, Snapseed is also improving RAW support for images captured using HDR Scape. Preview and final image colors are now more accurate, making it easier to edit photos to your liking. The preview will show default RAW colors, which wasn’t always the case in the past.

By the way, iOS users are also getting the White Balance tool, which came to us Android users a while back. It’s a great feature!

You can go get your update from the Google Play Store now. Enjoy!

Download Snapseed

Google Play Store rolling out new search result interface

While we haven’t seen any changes yet, plenty of online reports claim the Google Play Store is rolling out a server-side update. This is said to bring forth a new card-based layout for your search results.

The new UI seems to focus more on each app that shows up in the results. Upon searching for any app, you will get large cards that you can swipe through (left and right). They include the option to install, uninstall, descriptions and more. It’s pretty much a preview of the app’s page.

There’s not much evidence of these changes, but we do have plenty of user reports and a video created by user Rony Mishchuk, who claims to have the update and has a video of the new improvements.

We are liking the new changes, but so far we have no idea what’s going on with this update and choose to treat it as a rumor. As always, don’t hold your breath on it. We will definitely keep our eyes open for any more details that may show up.

Google brings more beautiful wallpapers to you phone or Mac

If you’re a fan of Google’s “Daily Wallpaper” feature baked inside of the official “Wallpapers” app but find yourself drifting towards Apple’s desktop ecosystem, you’re in luck.

Google put up a blog post today detailing the beautiful photos that users upload to its Google+ social network, letting the world know that some of these images would soon be available for your Android device as well as your Mac. Those who use Apple’s desktop computers will have the opportunity to download the new Featured Photos Screensaver for Mac, which grabs high resolution photos selected from the Google+ community and sets it as your wallpaper for while you’re away. Google+ photos will also be available in the Wallpapers Android app.

See also:

10 best live wallpaper apps for Android

June 10, 2016

Users can submit their own photos to be featured on the home screens of millions of devices by simply sharing their images publicly on Google+. Photos shared in this manner will automatically be considered to be added to the slideshow of images on both the Mac and Android applications. You can make sure your photos are not considered by sharing them privately, but since all the photos are reviewed before images are selected, you shouldn’t worry about publicly sharing family photos and the like with you circles.

For those who host a large amount of their photography on Google+ and would like to increase their chances of having their images showcased, you can apply to the Google+ Create program. Those who are accepted will have their shots featured much more often, and may even be considered to have their images used in Google’s various marketing channels. In addition, you will be able to get a sneak peek of new Google + features before anyone else, and can even get your account verified to let people know your photos are really yours.

If you didn’t know how to set these photos as your Android wallpaper already, here’s a simple guide:

  • Download Wallpapers app on Google Play
  • Long press the home screen
  • Tap “Wallpapers”
  • Choose Earth, Cityscapes, Landscapes, Life, or Textures
  • Tap “Daily Wallpaper”
  • Choose whether you want the wallpapers to be downloaded on wi-fi only
  • Tap continue
  • Tap “set wallpaper”

I’ve personally been using this as my wallpaper app of choice since launch, and I have high hopes that a similar application makes its way over to Windows.

Are you using these wallpapers?

Google Pixel phones predicted to sell 3 million units in 2016, up to 6 million in 2017

The launch of the Google Pixel and Pixel XL smartphone about a month ago represents a new hardware era for Google. A new report from the financial firm Morgan Stanley is trying to predict just how many of these phones will be sold in 2016 and 2017.

See also:

Google Pixel XL vs Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

3 weeks ago

Morgan Stanley believes Google will sell 3 million Pixel phones by the end of 2016, which it says will generate about $2 billion in revenues for the company. It also predicts the company could sell between 5 to 6 million more Pixels in 2017, with total revenues of $3.8 billion.

While those sales numbers would be a good start for any new smartphone brand, they are only a first step in Google’s new move to become more competitive in the market. Those stats are still well behind those from other companies, such as Samsung, which reportedly sold over 71 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2016. Apple sold 43 million iPhones in the same time period.

Morgan Stanley also noted that, due to its higher cost of materials, Google gets about half as much in profits from Pixel sales as Apple does from the iPhone. However, it added that the Pixel could see more money generated from purchasing Android apps and services than normal. Features such as its impressive camera and its support of the Daydream View VR headset will help in that regard, along with its deeper integration of apps such as Android Pay and the new Google Assistant. This also might help close the gap between Android app revenue and iOS, which currently has a 3 to 1 advantage.

A recent report from India claims that the Google Pixel and Pixel XL have already claimed about 10 percent of the premium smartphone market in that country. All in all, these numbers and predictions seem to show that the Pixel lineup is doing well so far, but only time will tell if it continues to grow against a lot of competition.

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

I hope you have enjoyed our reviews of the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL, however since this is the first time that a phone has had the words “Phone by Google” engraved on it, I think it is worth taking another look at the Google Pixel, not to look at the user experience (which we have already covered) but to take a look at the technology, the geeky stuff, that Google has put into these devices.

To do this I am going to delve a bit deeper into the display, the SoC, the battery, the camera and the software of the Google Pixel. I will be using the smaller Google Pixel for my tests, however a lot of what I cover will also be applicable to the larger Pixel XL. Want to know more? Let’s go.

Specifications

A quick look at the table below will reveal just how much tech has gone into the Pixel and Pixel XL. Hopefully we can expand on this list of specifications a bit and get to understand the significance of some of these items:

 Google PixelGoogle Pixel XL
Display5.0-inch AMOLED
1920 x 1080
441ppi
Fingerprint- and smudge-resistant oleophobic coating
Gorilla Glass 4
5.5-inch AMOLED
2560 x 1440
534ppi
Fingerprint- and smudge-resistant oleophobic coating
Gorilla Glass 4
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 821
2.15Ghz + 1.6Ghz, 64Bit Quad-Core
Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
2.15Ghz + 1.6Ghz, 64Bit Quad-Core
GPUAdreno 530Adreno 530
RAM4GB
LPDDR4
4GB
LPDDR4
Storage32/128GB32/128GB
MicroSDNoNo
Cameras12.3MP rear camera with f/2.0, 1.55μm large pixels, Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF), Laser Detection Autofocus (LDAF), 4K (30fps) video capture, HD 240fps (8x), Full HD 120fps (4x) slow motion video, broad-spectrum CRI-90 dual-LED flash

8MP front camera with f/2.4 aperture, 1.4 µm pixels, Full HD video capture (30fps)
12.3MP rear camera with f/2.0, 1.55μm large pixels, Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF), Laser Detection Autofocus (LDAF), 4K (30fps) video capture, HD 240fps (8x), Full HD 120fps (4x) slow motion video, broad-spectrum CRI-90 dual-LED flash

8MP front camera with f/2.4 aperture, 1.4 µm pixels, Full HD video capture (30fps)
BatteryNon-removable 2,770mAh
Fast charging: up to 7 hours of use from only 15 minutes of charging
Non-removable 3,450mAh
Fast charging: up to 7 hours of use from only 15 minutes of charging
MediaSingle bottom-firing speaker
Adaptive audio amplifier
3 microphones (2 front, 1 rear) with noise cancellation
Single bottom-firing speaker
Adaptive audio amplifier
3 microphones (2 front, 1 rear) with noise cancellation
Wireless and location4G LTE with 3x Carrier aggregation
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
NFC
GPS and GLONASS
Digital compass
4G LTE with 3x Carrier aggregation
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, dual-band (2.4 GHz, 5.0 GHz)
Bluetooth 4.2
NFC
GPS and GLONASS
Digital compass
NetworkWorld-wide network/carrier compatibility with:1
GSM: Quad-band GSM
UMTS/WCDMA : B 1/2/4/5/8
CDMA: BC0/BC1/BC10
TDS-CDMA: N/A
FDD LTE: B 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/25/26/28/29/30
TDD LTE: B 41
LTE 2xCA: B2+B2, B2+B4, B2+B5, B2+B12, B2+B13, B2+B17, B2+B29, B2+B30, B4+B4, B4+B5, B4+B7, B4+B12, B4+B13, B4+B17, B4+B29, B4+B30, B5+B30, B7+B7, B12+B30, B25+B25, B29+B30, B41+B41
LTE 3xCA: B2+B2+B12, B2+B2+B13, B2+B4+B4, B2+B4+B5, B2+B4+B12, B2+B4+B13, B2+B4+B29, B2+B5+B30, B2+B12+B30, B2+B29+B30, B4+B4+B12, B4+B4+B13, B4+B5+B30, B4+ B7+ B12, B4+B12+B30, B4+B29+B30, B41+B41+B41
Pixel is an unlocked phone and works on major carrier networks.
World-wide network/carrier compatibility with:1
GSM: Quad-band GSM
UMTS/WCDMA : B 1/2/4/5/8
CDMA: BC0/BC1/BC10
TDS-CDMA: N/A
FDD LTE: B 1/2/3/4/5/7/8/12/13/17/20/25/26/28/29/30
TDD LTE: B 41
LTE 2xCA: B2+B2, B2+B4, B2+B5, B2+B12, B2+B13, B2+B17, B2+B29, B2+B30, B4+B4, B4+B5, B4+B7, B4+B12, B4+B13, B4+B17, B4+B29, B4+B30, B5+B30, B7+B7, B12+B30, B25+B25, B29+B30, B41+B41
LTE 3xCA: B2+B2+B12, B2+B2+B13, B2+B4+B4, B2+B4+B5, B2+B4+B12, B2+B4+B13, B2+B4+B29, B2+B5+B30, B2+B12+B30, B2+B29+B30, B4+B4+B12, B4+B4+B13, B4+B5+B30, B4+ B7+ B12, B4+B12+B30, B4+B29+B30, B41+B41+B41
Pixel is an unlocked phone and works on major carrier networks.
PortsUSB Type-C
Nano SIM
3.5mm audio jack
USB 3.0 data transfer
USB Type-C
Nano SIM
3.5mm audio jack
USB 3.0 data transfer
SensorsPixel Imprint
Accelerometer/Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Barometer
Proximity sensor/Ambient Light Sensor
Hall sensor
Android Sensor Hub
Pixel Imprint
Accelerometer/Gyroscope
Magnetometer
Barometer
Proximity sensor/Ambient Light Sensor
Hall sensor
Android Sensor Hub
OtherRGB LED notification lightRGB LED notification light
Wireless chargingNoNo
Water resistanceIP53IP53
SoftwareAndroid 7.1 NougatAndroid 7.1 Nougat
ColorsVery Silver, Quite Black, Really Blue (Limited Edition)Very Silver, Quite Black, Really Blue (Limited Edition)
Dimensions and weight143.8 x 69.5 x 8.6mm
143g
154.7 x 75.7 x 8.6mm
168g

Display

The Pixel comes with a 5 inch Full HD AMOLED display protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 4, while the XL has a 5.5 inch Quad HD AMOLED display also protected by Gorilla Glass. There is no doubt that the displays on both Pixel devices are first class and are a pleasure to use. Looking at some of the tech, we noted in our full review that the display on the XL has a slightly cooler color temperature of 7859 Kelvin, which essentially means the screen has a blue tint. When the display is set to the standard mode (rather than the default adaptive mode), the colors are warmer at 7131k.

This seems also to be true for the Pixel. In terms of color accuracy the display on the Pixel tends to be skewed towards blue when it is displaying green. Notice the top set of vertical points on the graph below, they are left of the pure green target line. The reds, blues and purples however are quite accurate, but not strictly uniform when it comes to the various brightness levels.

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

Talking of brightness levels the Pixel’s display has a maximum of 410 nits. That is what you get when the display is on auto brightness and you shine a torch into the light sensor. If you switch to manual mode and crank it up to 100% then the brightness is marginally less at 406 nits. 50% is 208 nits and as you can see from the graph below the brightness profile is quite uniform:

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

The System-on-a-Chip (SoC) in the Pixel and Pixel XL is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821. The 821 is the successor to the Snapdragon 820, Qualcomm’s popular SoC which is found in lots of Android devices including some variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7, the LG V20 and the OnePlus 3. The 821 tweaks the design of the 820 to improve power efficiency while increasing performance.

At the heart of the Snapdragon 821 are the quad-core Kryo CPU and the Adreno 530 GPU. Plus there are loads of other bits and pieces including Qualcomm’s Hexagon 680 DSP and the X12 LTE Cat 12/13 modem. You can see from the specification table above that the Pixel supports and impressive number of 2G, 3G and 4G network frequencies.

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

The Snapdragon 820 could be clocked at a maximum of 2.2GHz, however the 821 has been designed to go as high as 2.4GHz. Qualcomm isn’t too forth coming about the architecture of the CPU, however Google has published information which says that the Snapdragon 821 in the Pixel uses 4 Kryo CPU cores, two clocked at 2.15GHz and two at 1.6GHz. The 821’s quad-core setup is what is called Heterogeneous Multi-Processing (HMP).

In general, the quad-core processors found in desktops and laptops have a set of cores which are all equal in terms of their performance and power consumption. In a HMP SoC, not all the cores are equal (hence, heterogeneous). In the Snapdragon 821 the 2.15GHz cores are tuned for performance while the 1.6GHz are tuned for efficiency. When tasks are run on the 1.6GHz cores they use less power, they drain the battery less, however they may run a little slower. When tasks are run on the 2.15GHz cores, they finish sooner but they use more power to do so. Here is where it gets complicated. A task that finishes quicker but uses more peak power to do so, may actually use less energy as it completed the task in a short amount of time. However a task which uses less peak power may use more energy as it took longer to complete.

The ideal situation is where the smaller cores run tasks which don’t use much power but need to run for a long time (like handling the CPU aspects of streaming video). As you can imagine the hardware and software combination needed to make HMP work well is complicated. ARM has done a lot of work in this area with its big.LITTLE system including contributing code to the Linux kernel. As such ARM is quite open about its HMP efforts, however Qualcomm is less so. If you want to know more about big.LITTLE then please read how the Samsung Galaxy S6 uses its octa-core processor.

When it comes to performance the Snapdragon 821 is a beast! Here is a table of some common benchmarks scores for the Pixel:

BenchmarkScore
AnTuTu141092
Geekbench 4 (single core)1500
Geekbench 4 (multi core)4139
Sling Shot using ES 3.12583
Quadrant31389
Basemark OS II2331

To put those numbers into some context, the Pixel scores higher on AnTuTu than the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Huawei Mate 9. However it scores lower than the Mate 9 for both Geekbench and Basemark OS II.

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

I also tested the Pixel with my own set of custom benchmarks which I have used to test various SoCs in the past including the Kirin 950. The first of my custom benchmarks tests the CPU without using the GPU. It calculates 100 SHA1 hashes on 4K of data and then does some other CPU stuff, I call it “Hashes, bubble sorts, tables and primes. The Pixel gets the best score from any Android phone I have tested!

The second benchmark uses a 2D physics engine to simulate water being poured into a container. Two drops of water are added every frame and the app is designed to run at 60 frames per second. The benchmark measures how many droplets are actually processed and how many are missed. The Pixel scored 10178, which is a good score, but it isn’t the best. The current record holder is the Kirin 960 in the Mate 9, which scores the maximum of 10800.

My third benchmark is written in Unity3D. It is a terrain flyover that yields a frame per second score for a pre-programmed pass over the rendered world. The Pixel scored 37.3 fps, which is again the best score to date.

Battery

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

The Pixel comes with a 2,770 mAh battery while the Pixel XL has a 3,450 mAh unit. According to Google that means the Pixel has a 3G talk time of up to 26 hours. Josh, Lanh and Nirave found that during day to day usage you can expect around 5 hours of screen on time. According to my testing with a mixed usage of web surfing, gaming and watching video will give you 5hr 13mins of screen on time, which matches what Josh et al saw.

Google claim that you can get 13 hours of video watching out of the Pixel, but the search giant doesn’t say how bright the display is during the tests. However it does say that “uses that involve an active display will use battery more quickly.” So I guess the brightness level for those tests are low (and fixed). I tested how long the phone can play a looped video from local storage with the display at 47% (i.e. 200 nits). The result was an impressive 10.5 hours!

If you are wondering how much the brightness level affects battery life, well so did I! I re-run my video test, this time with the display at 100%, that’s over 400 nits. The result was an equally impressive 8.5 hours. So upping the brightness can cost you as much as two hours of screen on time for easy tasks like video.

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

As for charging, you can charge the Pixel from < 5% to 100% in just over 1hr 40 mins, while to get to 50% takes less than half an hour and to get to 80% takes an hour. If you are in a mad rush then you can get 25% charge in just under 15 minutes! As with all quick charge system, the initial charging is much quicker than the final phase above 80%. For example the Pixel uses half of the charging time to go from 70% to 100%.

Camera

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

The specifications of the camera on the Pixel are excellent: 12.3MP rear camera with f/2.0 and 1.55μm large pixels. There is Phase Detection Autofocus (PDAF) as well as Laser Detection Autofocus (LDAF). It can record 4K @ 30fps and HD @ 240fps. On the front is an 8MP sensor with f/2.4 aperture and 1.4 µm pixels.

So I thought it would be interesting to see how the Pixel compares to a DSLR! So I took four pictures in controlled conditions (with a lightbox) to see how each one fared. My DSLR is a Canon EOS 700D. As you can see from the pictures below the 700D makes better pictures in good light. The colors are truer, there is more color depth and nuance. However for the close up of the Tardis door I would say that the Pixel did a much better job than the Canon. The text is clearer and there is less stippling. Also in low-light I would also say that the Pixel won. The EOS picture didn’t come out quite right because it is out of focus and maybe with more work I could have made it better.

Software

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

The Pixel and Pixel XL run Android 7.1 Nougat which brings with it a number of new features including Google’s new Pixel Launcher and the Google Assistant. The former is an incremental update to the standard Google Now Launcher which does away with the app drawer by making the installed apps available by swiping up from the bottom. The latter is Google’s new AI-based voice assistant, the same one in Google Allo, but now available throughout the whole Android interface.

In terms of storage and RAM, fresh out of the box the Pixel uses about 6.5GB of internal storage for Android and the default apps etc., which means there is around 23GB of free space. Both the Pixel and Pixel XL come with 4GB of RAM and from a fresh boot the phones uses around 1.3GB of RAM. During my testing (which was mainly running benchmarks, taking photos, playing videos etc.) I haven’t seen the average RAM usage go over 2GB.

Besides these two big ticket items there are lots of smaller changes including launcher shortcuts,  a new storage manager called Smart Storage, GIF support in the Google Keyboard, and improved VR thread scheduling:

  • App Shortcuts – These allow users to access key actions within an app directly from the launcher. You just long-press an app’s launcher icon to reveal the app’s shortcuts, then tap on a shortcut to jump to the associated action.
  • GIF support in the Google Keyboard – Android 7.1 supports the new Commit Content API, which provides a universal way for keyboards to send images and other rich content directly to a text editor in an app.
  • Smart Storage – If an app requires more space than is currently available, it can use the Smart Storage page to let the user delete unneeded apps and content to free up sufficient space.
  • Improved VR thread scheduling – Android 7.1 provides new features to improve VR thread scheduling. Apps can now designate one thread as a VR thread. While the app is in VR mode, the system will schedule that thread more aggressively to minimize latency.

Wrap-up

Google Pixel review: a technical deep dive

There are many non-technical factors to choosing your next Android smartphone including price, availability, branding and long term support. However if we push those to the side for the moment at just look at the tech, it is clear that the Pixel and Pixel XL are leading edge devices. Here we find AMOLED displays and not LCD, plus the XL sports QHD resolution.

The SoC is the best Qualcomm has to offer today and the benchmarks show that it is the best in its field (in the majority of cases). You also have excellent cellular support with the X12 modem. On top of that you have a good camera, an above average battery, an option for 128GB of internal storage and the latest version of Android.

What we don’t have is an SD card slot, wireless charging, optical image stabilization, front facing speakers or proper waterproofing (like IP67). So while everything that the Pixel does include is top of the range, it might be what it doesn’t include that could be the deciding factor for you! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Google captures 10% of premium smartphone segment in India with Pixel

According to Counterpoint Research, Google has captured a 10% share of the premium smartphone segment in India with the Pixel and Pixel XL. The premium smartphone segment is defined where the smartphone is priced over ₹30,000 ($440).

Google shipped 33,000 units of Pixel to India as of October end after launching earlier in the month, becoming the number 3 player for the month. However, per the report, Apple continues to maintain a clear lead in this segment with around 66 percent of the overall market share, followed by Samsung with around 23 percent share.

Google is aggressively trying to take advantage of the lack of competition in this segment and does not want to miss-out on the opportunities. The company is leaving no stones unturned with heavy spend on marketing, there are exchange and cashback offers also available for the new entrant. A refreshing and feature packed Pixel is making for a good proposition against the incumbents Apple’s new iPhone and Samsung’s [Galaxy] S7 smartphones.

Google has been running a 360 degrees advertorial campaign in major cities across India as well as heavy spends on digital and print. The company offered no-cost EMIs for buying Pixel devices from both online and offline stores, cashback for HDFC Bank card holders, as well as an exchange program and extra discount on Flipkart.

Of course, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco aided the numbers for Google. The expected launch of the device in October never happened, leaving a void in the market for other flagship smartphones.

We are very enthused by the feedback from Indian customers and the initial response for Pixel has been extremely positive and in line with our expectations. Pixel is Google’s take on the total user experience as we envision it — bringing the best of Google’s software, such as the Google Assistant, with hardware that really brings the experience to life.

– A Google spokesperson

Mind you, the report is based on units shipped, and not necessarily sold. The idle inventory with the retails too is counted towards the number. However, with heavy spends on marketing and generally positive reviews all around, Google is likely to maintain the market share, if not extend it in the quarter.

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

Welcome to the 167th edition of Android Apps Weekly! Here are the headlines from the last week:

  • Google Play is currently trying out individual game ratings. The way it works is you rate titles based on game play, controls, and graphics. The scores for each category lets people know how good those qualities are for a more comprehensive look at the game. It can also warn people if games don’t have good controller support or have great graphics but otherwise suck. We’re not sure if this is going to roll out to everybody, but it seems like a good idea.
  • So Twitter banned its own CEO this week. In an act that essentially summed up how bad it’s been at Twitter lately, Jack Dorsey spent a good portion of the day not being able to view his own Twitter account. He did eventually make it back on and told everyone that it was an internal problem that caused the ban. There’s nothing of real note here, but it was kinda funny.
  • It was announced this week that Google is ending Google Play Services support for Android Gingerbread. The change will happen in early 2017. By removing Gingerbread, Google Play Services will become a little more modern in nature and give developers more options for building apps. The number of devices that even use Gingerbread is only about 1.3%. Also, most apps don’t support Gingerbread anymore anyway.
  • The latest Humble Bundle is live! This bundle features tons of games from HandyGames and includes Clouds & Sheep, Rocket Island, 1942 Pacific Front, and plenty of other games that would cost you $42 to buy individually. You can pay what you want and get five games, pay a $3 minimum and get up to 11 games, or pay $5 or more to get the whole bundle. It’s a good way to get some games on the cheap and give to charity.
  • Google Play is tossing a huge games, apps, books, movies, and more sale in honor of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can get stuff for up to 80% off and some of the titles are rather expensive without deals. It’s a good time to stock up on some stuff. We don’t know how long these deals will last, though, so be sure to get them while you can. Click the previous links to see the deals!

For even more Android apps and games news, updates, releases, and more, check out this week’s newsletter by clicking here! There you’ll find a bunch of stuff that we didn’t have the space for here. You can sign up for the newsletter using the form below if you’d like and we’ll send it to your inbox every Sunday! Also, don’t forget to check out the Android Authority app!

Subscribe to Android Apps Weekly!
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Eisenhorn: Xenox

[Price: $5.99]
Eisenhorn: Xenos is an adventure game that takes place in the Warharmmer 40,000 universe. It’s an adaptation from a book of the same name. You’ll be able to explore the world, take part in various quests, and the game comes with full voice acting. The graphics are also pretty decent. Unlike most Warhammer games these days, this one is a pay-once title with no in-app purchases. It also has full game controller support if that matters to you.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyChase Pay

[Price: Free]
Chase Bank has released its own NFC payment app called Chase Pay. It’s about what you’d expect from an NFC payment app. You’ll be able to log into an existing Chase account and use the cards on file to make purchases. It’s brand new which means there are plenty of bugs that need to be worked out. Also, the app only works at Best Buy and a few other places right now but we expect that to increase over time. It’s not very good right now, but members of Chase Bank should keep an eye on it.

Download now on Google Play!

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


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyGear.Club

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Gear.Club is a racing game that boasts a realistic experience. Underneath its bravado, it’s a fairly standard freemium racing game. You’ll race various tracks at various locations to win various championships. Above that, there is a large selection of cars to collect, optimize, and upgrade. The graphics are simply astounding although other parts of the game could use a little bit of work. It’s not quite prime time yet but we’re sure it’ll get there eventually.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyPulse SMS

[Price: Free / $0.99 per month / $1.99 per 3 months / $5.99 per year / $10.99]
Pulse SMS is a hybrid of a texting app and a Pushbullet competitor. On its own, the Android app functions as a good, if slightly basic SMS app. However, you can download the app on various platforms and share the SMS messages between them. That means you can text on your tablet or your computer if you want to. Like Pushbullet, there is a subscription service although you can get a lifetime license and not have to worry about it if you want to. It’s a little buggy as new apps are, but it’s definitely going to get better over time.

Download now on Google Play!


5 Android apps you shouldn’t miss this week! – Android Apps WeeklyMicrosoft Solitaire Collection

[Price: Free with in-app purchases]
Microsoft Solitaire Collection is an Android port of the popular Solitaire games available on most Microsoft Windows machines. The game includes five total variants of Solitaire, including Klondike (classic), Spider, Freecell, Tripeaks, and Pyramid. This adaptation also includes daily challenges as well as Xbox Live login support where you can earn actual achievements. It’s a time waster through and through. You can also get a premium membership for a recurring charge that removes advertising and gives you in-game boosts.

Download now on Google Play!

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


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(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

Update, November 22: The second and final Android 7.1 developer preview has now rolled out for supported Nexus devices, which this time includes the Nexus 9. Meanwhile, multiple Nougat betas have been announced while some lucky device owners have already received the official Nougat update.

Google gave itself a couple of months head start on getting Nougat ready by releasing the first beta release on March 9. But it also gave app developers and manufacturers an even earlier look at what to expect from Android 7.0 Nougat and additional time to get the update ball rolling.

When Android 7.0 landed in its final form on August 22, it was actually slightly ahead of schedule. But that now leaves us with the question: when will Nougat hit our devices? The answer to this varies wildly depending on the OEM in question, so head to your OEM section below for our estimated arrival date.

Latest Android Nougat news

On November 22, the second and final Android 7.1 Nougat developer preview rolled out for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Pixel C and Nexus 9. There was nothing really new in the builds other than “near-final system behaviors and UI”. The public release of Android 7.1 Nougat is due in early December.

As always, you can find factory images and over-the-air (OTA) images on the Android Developers blog:

If you’ve never flashed a factory image, you can follow our guide here.

See also:

Android Nougat: all the features you need to know

October 21, 2016

On November 20, the Sprint LG G5 became the first major flagship to receive the official update to Android 7.0 Nougat.

On October 19, the first developer preview of Android 7.1 Nougat went out for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X and Pixel C, after being teased on the Android Developer’s blog in early October.

Android 7.0 Nougat formally arrived on August 22nd. The first official version of Nougat didn’t bring anything notably different from the final Android 7.0 developer preview, although a ton of bugs were squashed in order to bring the most stable experience possible.

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

Nexus Nougat update situation

While the new Google Pixel phones ran Android 7.1 out of the box – along with several Pixel-only features – Android 7.1 will be coming to supported devices in its final version in “early December”.

The phones getting the Android 7.1 update at that time include the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C and supported Android One devices. Developer preview builds of Android 7.1 began rolling out on October 19 with the final preview arriving on November 22.

As always, the beta program is the easiest method for getting the latest and greatest Android version as quickly as possible via OTA, but you can also flash the factory images if you’re not in the beta program (see links above).

On August 22nd, Android 7.0 OTAs began for the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C and General Mobile 4G (Android One). The Nexus 5 did not join in on the fun, though that’s of little surprise considering Google’s usual device update support patterns. The factory images can be found here.

Android 7.0 update: when will I get it?

Samsung Android 7.0 update

Even though Samsung isn’t exactly speedy when it comes to rolling out Android updates, there’s at least some good news where the Samsung Android 7.0 update is concerned.

The first Galaxy beta Nougat firmware arrived for the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge on November 9 for U.S., UK and South Korean participants, with a second build coming soon. When the final release will arrive we can’t yet say but Samsung has said the program will run until mid-December.

For reference, there was a five-month timeframe between the Android 6.0 launch on September 29, 2015 and the first U.S. update to Marshmallow with the Verizon Galaxy Note 5 on March 3, 2016. Using that as a benchmark, Galaxy owners could easily be waiting until some time in January 2017 for the first Samsung Android 7.0 update.

Following the Note 7 recall, however, Samsung might try to get Nougat out for the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge before the end of the year with the Note 5, Galaxy Tab S2, Galaxy S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+ after them. The Note 5 and Tab S2 update is currently underway and an S6 running Nougat appeared on GFXBench recently.

The Galaxy S8 will arrive in early 2017 running at least Android 7.0 and maybe even Android 7.1 out of the box.

Best case scenario: 5 months after Android 7.0 launch (January 2017)

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

LG Android 7.0 update

With Android Nougat, LG took just 78 days to update its first device to Android 7.0 (the South Korean LG G5 on November 8) – the fastest of all OEMs. In the U.S., the Sprint LG G5 got Nougat on November 20, making the LG G5 the first major U.S. flagship to receive the official Android Nougat update as well.

LG was pretty good with its update speed for Marshmallow too, with less than two months separating the release of Android 6.0 and the first LG handset to receive it (the Sprint LG G4 on December 21, 2015).

In fact, LG was the first OEM to get a carrier-based Marshmallow update out after Google. The LG V10 eventually got the update internationally in early March 2016, after the LG G3 and LG G Stylo already had Marshmallow in the U.S..

Of course, the LG V20 had the honor of being the first phone to arrive with Android 7.0 out of the box, beating even the Nexus range to the punch (much to the irritation of Nexus owners everywhere).

Best case scenario: 2 months after Android 7.0 release (November 2016) – CONFIRMED

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

Sony Android 7.0 update

This year, certain Sony Xperia owners were treated to an Android N preview build just as they were last year with Android M. Sony’s Nougat Concept rolled out on November 1 for the Xperia X Performance. Then, on November 21, the Xperia X assumed the top spot for future Sony Concept builds, and received the latest beta from Sony on that date.

However, for those of you not interested in installing a non-final developer version, the official Sony Android 7.0 update has already been confirmed for the Xperia X, XA, XA Ultra, X Performance, XZ, X Compact, Z5, Z5 Compact, Z5 Premium, Z3+ and Z4 Tablet.

The exact date for the first Sony Nougat update is less certain though. If we look at Sony’s efforts with Marshmallow last year, our predictions aren’t very optimistic.

Based on the Xperia Z5 series, Z4 Tablet and Xperia Z3+ all getting the Marshmallow update five months after Google first pushed it out, we wouldn’t expect any Xperias to see Nougat until mid-January 2017. Sony has undergone some pretty serious changes internally in the last year though, so let’s just hope Sony is aiming to up its game with the Nougat rollout.

Best case scenario: 5 months after Android 7.0 release (January 2017)

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

Motorola Android 7.0 update

For a little while it looked like Motorola had toppled LG as the first OEM to get a new Android version out, but reports of an October 21 release for the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus in India turned out not to be the case.

Moto owners had to wait almost another whole month to see the first official Nougat update, with the Verizon Moto Z and Moto Z Force getting the update on November 18. Motorola ultimately took 88 days to get Nougat out for its first devices.

Looking at Moto’s past efforts, the Moto X Style got Marshmallow first, on November 12, 2015 and the Moto X Pure Edition got the first U.S. Moto update to Marshmallow on December 7, 2015. Marshmallow arrived from Google on October 5, 2015, but most Moto devices had to wait at least two months to get Marshmallow.

Lenovo has confirmed a list of devices confirmed to get Android Nougat and we know the new near-stock Moto devices will receive both the Android N and Android O releases.

Best case scenario: 2 months after Android 7.0 arrives (October 2016) – DELAYED

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

HTC Android 7.0 update

HTC developer @LlabTooFeR has claimed the HTC Nougat update is scheduled for late-November for the HTC 10. The developer later posted screenshots of Nougat on the HTC 10, claiming it was stable and almost ready.

As you may recall, HTC did pretty well with its first update to Marshmallow. The unlocked Developer Edition HTC One M9 and all variants of the HTC One A9 got the Marshmallow update in December 2015. The HTC 10 arrived in April running Android Marshmallow out of the box and will be the first HTC device to receive Nougat.

HTC’s next flagship, presumably the HTC 11, should arrive with Android 7.0 at launch (if not Android 7.1). HTC has already confirmed several devices (10, M9, A9) to be on the update train and T-Mobile has the HTC 10 and HTC One M9 on its own update list.

Best case scenario: 3 months after Android 7.0 unveiling (November 2016)

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

Huawei Android 7.0 update

The Huawei Mate 9 arrived recently running Android 7.0 Nougat out of the box. Huawei pulled the same “latest version” rabbit out of its hat with the Mate 8 in November 2015, which ran Marshmallow out of the box just weeks after Google released it.

Meanwhile, a beta preview of Nougat for the Huawei P9 appeared as far back as July, a whole month before Google officially released it for Nexus devices. Update news for the P9 has been suspiciously quiet ever since though, even if the P9 series along with the Nova and Nova Plus are likely to be the first Huawei phones to get updated (as opposed to arriving with Nougat).

As far as honor devices are concerned, last year, the honor 7 Enhanced Edition arrived on December 14, 2015 with Android Marshmallow on board and the honor 5X and honor 7 followed with the Marshmallow update at the end of February. The honor 8 has a Nougat beta available, but we’ve no information on when the official update will arrive.

Best case scenario: Mate 9 running Android 7.0 at launch (November 2016), honor updates in January 2017

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

OnePlus Android 7.0 update

OnePlus has promised to have a Nougat “community build” for the OnePlus 3 out by the end of November. Both the OnePlus 3 and newer OnePlus 3T are due for the official OnePlus Nougat update in December. Furthermore, OnePlus has confirmed that the OnePlus 3 will get every Android update the OnePlus 3T gets, effectively adding an extra six months to its support shelf life.

OnePlus isn’t exactly renowned for its software updates, seriously dropping the ball on the OnePlus 2 and taking forever to deliver Marshmallow to the OnePlus X. With those updates coming June 5 and September 28 respectively, that equates to a full 245 days and 360 days after Google first made Marshmallow available on October 5, 2015.

Nevertheless, OnePlus has promised to get its update game in shape and has combined its software teams to streamline Android updates from here on out. Even if the Nougat update arrives on the last day of 2016, OnePlus will have shaved more than 100 days off its Marshmallow effort.

Best case scenario: 4 months after Google (December 2017)

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

Xiaomi Android 7.0 update

Xiaomi had a pretty bad case of the hiccups when it came to the Marshmallow update, so it may not be entirely representative to base assumptions about the Xiaomi Android 7.0 update based on its most recent update performance.

As you may remember, despite announcing Marshmallow was in the final stages of testing back in December 2015, it wasn’t until early April that the Mi 4, Mi 3 and Mi Note finally got Android 6.0.

Perhaps learning from this mistake, Xiaomi hasn’t made any Nougat promises this time around, but began looking for Mi 5 Nougat beta testers on November 18. With a Nougat beta starting just now, it will likely be a few months before we see the Xiaomi Nougat update rolling out.

In the worst case scenario, Xiaomi suffers similar problems with Android 7.0 and users won’t see it until six months after Google releases it. In the best case scenario, Xiaomi has a successful public beta and has the update out in December 2016 or January 2017. But no matter when the update comes, we’ll likely see a Xiaomi device launch with Nougat out of the box first.

Best case scenario: 4-5 months after Google (December 2016/January 2017)

(Update: Final 7.1 preview rolls out) Android Nougat update: when will you get it?

Android One Android 7.0 update

Android One devices occupy a particular sweet spot when it comes to Android updates. Because they run stock Android, Google handles firmware updates, meaning the Android One Android 7.0 update will always arrive at the same time as it does for Nexus devices with both OTA and flashable factory image options.

OTAs will likely take at least a few weeks or more to reach all Android One devices getting the upgrade, and as always, the factory images will be right around the corner. Note that not all Android One devices make the initial rollout alongside Nexus devices though.

When do you expect your manufacturer and carrier to get Android 7.0 into your hands?

Google, Microsoft and others create guidelines for improving IoT security

The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group – an alliance formed by Google, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon and others in the tech industry – has laid out guidelines for improving security on Internet of Things devices.

The group, also known as BITAG, was formed in 2010 to produce best practices for broadband security and published its recommendations for IoT manufacturers yesterday.

In the document, BITAG warned that “the nature of consumer IoT is unique because it can involve non-technical or uninterested consumers; challenging device discovery and inventory on consumer home networks,” adding that IoT devices can be hijacked to create “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, perform surveillance and monitoring, gain unauthorized access or control, induce device or system failures, and disturb or harass authorized users or device owners.”

See also:

What is the problem with IoT security? – Gary explains

3 days ago

To avoid such exploits, BITAG makes a number of recommendations for manufacturers, including:

  • Shipping products with up-to-date software
  • Including a mechanism for automated and secure software updates
  • Providing “Strong authentication”, such as password protection, by default
  • Conducting security tests on a number of configurations
  • Following security and cryptography best practices
  • Ensuring devices remain functional even if the cloud back-end fails

BITAG also suggested that, when possible, IoT devices should not be reachable via inbound connections by default. As an advisory group, however, BITAG can’t legally enforce any of its recommendations on IoT device manufacturers.

In October, an IoT exploit was a major contributor in an internet blackout in the US, which affected huge parts of the country. You can watch our own Gary Sims detail some of the concerns surrounding IoT security in this video.

Google, Microsoft and others create guidelines for improving IoT security

The Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group – an alliance formed by Google, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon and others in the tech industry – has laid out guidelines for improving security on Internet of Things devices.

The group, also known as BITAG, was formed in 2010 to produce best practices for broadband security and published its recommendations for IoT manufacturers yesterday.

In the document, BITAG warned that “the nature of consumer IoT is unique because it can involve non-technical or uninterested consumers; challenging device discovery and inventory on consumer home networks,” adding that IoT devices can be hijacked to create “Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, perform surveillance and monitoring, gain unauthorized access or control, induce device or system failures, and disturb or harass authorized users or device owners.”

See also:

What is the problem with IoT security? – Gary explains

3 days ago

To avoid such exploits, BITAG makes a number of recommendations for manufacturers, including:

  • Shipping products with up-to-date software
  • Including a mechanism for automated and secure software updates
  • Providing “Strong authentication”, such as password protection, by default
  • Conducting security tests on a number of configurations
  • Following security and cryptography best practices
  • Ensuring devices remain functional even if the cloud back-end fails

BITAG also suggested that, when possible, IoT devices should not be reachable via inbound connections by default. As an advisory group, however, BITAG can’t legally enforce any of its recommendations on IoT device manufacturers.

In October, an IoT exploit was a major contributor in an internet blackout in the US, which affected huge parts of the country. You can watch our own Gary Sims detail some of the concerns surrounding IoT security in this video.