The Android Wear platform has been around for over a year now, and although it has come a long way since launching with the LG G Watch and Moto 360, we are looking forward to seeing it evolve even more. The next Android Wear update was originally scheduled to be released on July 28th, but this has now been postponed to an unspecified date in August. This doesn’t mean that we have to wait to find out about some of the alleged new features though.
Thanks to the information provided to Phandroid, we are able to see that the next Android Wear update will include the ability to tap the watch display once to change aesthetics, launch activities, inline expansion and more. While there’s already third-party watch faces that offer the tap once gesture, it’s a feature that has to be hacked in by the developer, which often leads to system issues. Below are some examples of what a single tap can do, with the first example showing how the user could cycle through a list of options, i.e. different watch faces.
A single tap could also bring up more information from a watch face, the weather, for example, as seen below.
Or, the single tap could bring up your fitness information, which could prove handy if you are at the gym.
Finally, the single tap could be used to open a new app, which would then slide in from the right of the display. It’s said that Google has informed Android Wear developers of the new features so that they can update their apps accordingly when the update is released. If Google hasn’t been in touch, you shouldn’t have to wait too long to get access to the new API.
Together is a new feature that gives the ability for Android Wear users to send messages, emoji’s, stickers and doodles to other Android Wear users, as seen mentioned in the strings of code below:
“Stay together by sending messages directly to your friend’s watch face”
<string name=”wc_doodle_message_received”>%1$s sent you a doodle with %2$s</string>
<string name=”wc_photo_message_received”>%1$s sent you a photo with %2$s</string>
<string name=”wc_sticker_message_received”>%1$s sent you a sticker with %2$s</string>
<string name=”wc_message_received”>%1$s sent you a message with %2$s</string>
At present, it isn’t known whether the Together function will be launched as a system app or limited to just the one watch face. If it was indeed limited in use to the one watch face, it wouldn’t be very useful at all. It should be said that the information given to Phandroid wasn’t up to date, which means it may well have just been the starting point.
Finally, if you’re rocking an LG G Watch R, you’ve probably been waiting patiently for its WiFi capability to be activated, as promised by LG. This next Android Wear update appears to be the one you’ve been waiting for, now its just a matter of time until the update is released.
Are you excited about this upcoming Android Wear update? Let us know what features you would like to see included in the comments below.
The next Android Wear update brings interactive watch faces, watch to watch messaging and more
We’ve been hearing rumblings about an Android Wear update coming out in the next few weeks, and now Phandroid has some info on what might be included. The next update will have two main feature additions—a watch-to-watch communication system and interactive watch faces.
Regarding the interactive watch faces, you might be confused as some watch faces are already interactive (i.e. you tap and they do stuff). For example, you can tap some faces to pull up additional information like calendar events.
A few months ago, Google updated Search to allow sending directions to your Android phone. That’s from a Google desktop search to a smartphone. It’s one easy way to bring the information and directions you need when going to a certain destination. This time, Google has updated the Maps app to finally allow it to send directly from desktop Maps to the mobile Android app.
Google Maps for desktop now features ‘Send’ links that lets you send the current location indicated on the card. When you click on it, a list of your other Android mobile devices whether tablet or phone will be shown. Only those that are signed in to your Google account will be included. From there, you can send the location to another device which will then receive a notification before the location or directions are displayed for navigation.
When you find a place or location in Google Maps on your desktop computer, you can easily send it to your Android device for access whenever you are mobile. You have to make sure first that you are signed in to Map on both your computer and mobile device, search for a place, and Click Send in the card that shows then choose the Android device you want to send the information to. On the device, you will immediately receive a notification just make sure you are connected to the Internet.
Download Maps (version (9.11.0) from the Google Play Store or get it from APKMirror
An increasingly prevalent trend in the smartphone world is the introduction of “Plus” smartphones, that typically bring better specifications and more features over what is available with the main flagship from the OEM. And that can be disappointing for consumers that have already committed to the latter. To the dismay of many, HTC has done exactly that with its flagship One M9, adding a few key enhancements that should have actually been there with the original and releasing the One M9+.
Can this latest high-end offering from HTC be considered the company’s true flagship? We find out, in this comprehensive HTC One M9+ review!
Buy now on Amazon
The HTC One M9+ is essentially a larger version of its flagship, with a few minor, but noticeable, tweaks. With the 0.2-inch bump in the display size, the M9+ is understandably taller and wider than the One M9, and the rear camera has been redesigned to a circular shape, compared to the rounded square seen with the original. The more prominent difference comes up front though, with the speaker grill below the display being split to accommodate a fingerprint sensor.
Otherwise, the device still features the same full metal unibody construction, with the build quality that we’ve come expect from HTC. The corners are rounded off, and the tapered back allows for the phone to sit nicely in the hand. The One M9+ is not drastically bigger than the One M9, and is still fairly easy to use in one hand, and will still be within the realm of what most people consider a “normal” sized phone. The metal ridge design that goes around the perimeter of the phone provides for a much better grip as well. The full metal body means that it still isn’t the easiest phone to hold onto, but by no means will you ever feel worried about the phone slipping out of your hands.
Going around the device, the power button is placed on the right side just below the volume rocker, which is a definite improvement over previous One series smartphones. As is the case with the regular One M9 though, the placement of the power button is a tad too low, which makes it somewhat difficult to reach. That said, the double tap to wake feature is also available with the One M9+, and you won’t be needing to reach the power button all that often anyway. Of course, now there is also the added benefit of unlocking the device and going straight into the home screen by using the fingerprint scanner. The rest of the buttons and ports are in their usual locations, with a large black strip up top for the IR blaster, with the headphone jack and microUSB port at the bottom, and the SIM card tray on the left. Finally, HTC’s tried and true BoomSound speakers return up front, and for better or worse, the infamous black HTC bar still resides below the display.
The improvements over the smaller namesake start with the display, with the One M9+ featuring a 5.2-inch Super LCD3 with a Quad HD resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 565 ppi. The bump is resolution does result in a far sharper screen, although some people will argue that the difference isn’t easily noticeable. Regardless, HTC has delivered another fantastic looking display with the One M9+, putting this flagship at par with the competition.
The blacks may not be as deep in comparison to the AMOLEDs of the world, but that isn’t surprising with an LCD screen. The screen overall is bright, vivid, with great viewing angles and a brightness that allows for comfortable outdoor viewing. There is a slight bias towards a warmer color tone though, that gives off a slightly yellowish hue sometimes, but otherwise, this display is an absolute pleasure to use in everyday tasks or for media consumption.
Another major change with the M9+ comes in the processor, but in this case, it does unfortunately prove to be a step back. Under the hood, the device packs an octa-core MediaTek MT6795T processor, clocked at 2.2 GHz, and backed by the PowerVR G6200 and 3 GB of RAM. In general everyday use, like navigating through the various elements of the UI and opening applications, the One M9+ provides a very fluid and responsive experience. It’s with multi-tasking that mixed results are seen. While switching back and forth between applications can be smooth and snappy sometimes, there are instances where there is a lot of stutter in the animations, and significant delays in the load times between apps.
The dip in performance is far more noticeable when it comes to gaming though, which really raises questions with regards to HTC’s decision to go with a MediaTek processor. Graphic-intensive games like Modern Combat 5 can run smoothly at times, but there is too much action on the screen, the frame rate drops significantly, resulting in very choppy gameplay. Games like Mortal Kombat X are a little too much for the One M9+ to handle, and even simpler games like Clash of Clans fail to run at a consistent frame. This could be due to a lack of optimization for the MediaTek processor, but is still a huge letdown for anyone that enjoys gaming on their phone.
One aspect of the hardware that enhances the media consumption and gaming experience in general is with HTC’s signature front-facing BoomSound speakers. They are still the loudest and most crisp sounding speakers on any smartphone, unrivaled by anyone. With Dolby audio enhancements, you can easily toggle between a theater mode for a surround sound effect, and a music mode for a more flatter sound.
The bottom speaker has undergone a slight makeover with a separation in the grill to make way for the fingerprint scanner. The process of setting up the scanner is very similar to both Apple and Samsung’s implementation, that requires a series of repeated presses to accurately record your fingerprint. Up to 5 fingerprints can be stored at one time, and once set up, the sensor works surprisingly well. Using the fingerprint scanner unlocks the phone almost instantaneously the majority of the time, and easily rivals the scanners found on the latest Apple and Samsung devices. While you are able to use the scanner as a dedicated home button, it is actually not a real tactile button, and functions more like a capacitive key.
32 GB of on-board storage is available with the One M9+, and for those that do need more, the storage is further expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB. The device also comes with the usual suite of connectivity and sensor options.
The HTC One M9+ comes with a non-removable 2,840 mAh battery that has proved to be quite good. The battery lasts from anywhere between 14 and 16 hours with normal usage, which should be more than enough for most people to get through a full day. With heavy usage, that involved lots of gaming and taking pictures, that number does dip considerably though, down to around 10 to 11 hours.
Exact screen-on times can’t be provided because for some reason, HTC has made determining that number very difficult. What can be said is that there was never a issue with getting through a full day unless you really put the device through its paces, and that did result in needing to reach for the charger in the middle of the day. The use of a MediaTek processor means that the One M9+ doesn’t come with any fast charging capabilities though, which would have been nice, but isn’t exactly a deal breaker.
HTC brings back the Duo Camera setup of the One M8 with the One M9+, allowing for the camera to refocus shots after the fact, but considering that many smartphone cameras can achieve the same effect with only one sensor, the re-introduction of the Duo Camera becomes a rather questionable choice. The main camera is still the same 20 MP shooter from the One M9, and a 4 MP UltraPixel camera is once again found up front for some high quality selfies.
The camera application continues to be minimalistic, with quick toggles to easily switch between the front camera and rear camera, and the ability to take a panorama shot simply by swiping on the viewfinder, or tapping the button on the bottom right. Photo Booth and Split Capture are also available for those you want it. The rest of the camera settings are hidden in the overflow menu, which keeps the interface from getting cluttered, but does result in getting to modes like HDR and manual requiring a few more steps than is necessary. The most notable difference with the camera UI is the addition of the Duo Camera toggle to quickly switch between duo capture and standard high resolution shots.
The Duo Camera works just like it is supposed to, but for best results, you’ll need to make sure that there is a clear subject of focus and a clear background, or the refocusing may not look very convincing. The biggest caveat to using this setup is that photos are capped at 4 MP, so there’s not a whole lot of room to work with if you’re planning to crop.
When shooting in the normal full resolution, there is plenty of detail in the shots, especially when you’re working with 20 MP, but considering that this the same sensor and software, the One M9+ faces a lot of the issues that plagued the camera experience of the One M9. Good looking shots are possible with the right lighting conditions, but the main problem here is its lack of dynamic range and the way it handles exposure. The exposure can be adjusted by tapping anywhere on the viewfinder, which is a very simple and easy implementation, but even a tiny change in the place you tap will result in major swings in the exposure, leading to two completely different looking photos as a result. HDR does help improve the situation, but with several seconds of processing time between each shot, it’s not always the most practical solution.
The situation doesn’t get much better in low light conditions, and without OIS, it becomes extremely difficult to get a clear shot, especially when the shutter has to to stay open longer to try and capture more detail. At higher ISOs, pictures quickly become filled with noise, which is expected, but results in soft images with very little color. This just goes to show that it isn’t all about just the megapixel count, and it is very evident that this camera is still suffering from the same problems as those seen on the One M9.
On the software side of things, the HTC One M9+ is running Android 5.0.2 Lollipop, with the HTC Sense 7 UI on top. The user interface retains everything that many have come to know and love about HTC Sense from previous iterations, and adds a few key features that were first introduced with the One M9. The interface is still fast and fluid, and there are of course the now familiar elements like the vertical scrolling app drawer and Blinkfeed, which now also shows restaurant recommendations during meal times (which can also show on your lock screen if you so choose).
All of the motion launch gestures that make accessing certain functions of the phone a lot faster are still available, including double tap to wake, swipe up to unlock from a sleep state, directly access BlinkFeed, and quickly launch the camera app just by picking the device up in the landscape orientation and tapping the volume down button.
New features introduced with Sense 7 include the addition of the home widget and a themes engine. The home widget aggregates a selection of applications that will be most useful to you, changing according to your location. Also available is a folder that houses the recently downloaded applications, and there is also a list of recommended apps that will appear alongside it. This feature can certainly be useful for some, but can also be removed easily if you don’t find a need for it.
On the other hand, the new themes engine is one of the best additions to HTC Sense, and even though the default UI does look great, it is always nice to have a change of scenery. The themes engine is still relatively new, but there’s already numerous options to choose from, that allow you to change virtually everything at the click of a button, including the wallpaper, icons, sounds, fonts, and even the general system UI elements. You can even create your own theme by selecting a wallpaper or photo of your choice, and the theme engine will automatically build one for you; but you also have more granular control features at your disposal, to get it to look exactly the way you want it.
5.2-inch Super LCD3
2560 x 1440 resolution, 565 ppi
2.2 GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6795T processor
PowerVR G6200 GPU
32 GB, expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB
Duo Camera (20 MP + 2.1 MP) with dual LED flash
4 MP Ultrapixel front-facing camera
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
GPS + GLONASS
Android 5.0.2 Lollipop
151 x 72 x 9.6 mm
Gunmetal gray, silver gold
Pricing and final thoughts
The HTC One M9+ is already available in markets like China and India, and has recently become available on Amazon for purchase in the US, with a price tag of around $710, which does fluctuate though. Available color options include gunmetal and silver gold. Keep in mind that, since it is a GSM version, it is compatible only with the AT&T and T-Mobile network in the US.
So there you have it for this in-depth look at the HTC One M9+! With such a high price tag, the device will be going up against some stiff competition in the LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6, and even the HTC One M9 itself. If you’re confused between the One M9+ and its smaller sibling, the choice you have to make is with regards to how important a Quad HD display and fingerprint scanner are to you, and if they are worth the price. While these features are great to have, One M9 owners shouldn’t feel like they’ve been cheated, because the One M9+ is not without its shortcomings, particularly with regards to performance.
Smartphones and wearables are progressing to being more than just communication devices as we increasingly use them more to measure health and fitness. Smartphones can measure heart rate and a range of fitness and lifestyle metrics but Samsung wants to take it to the next level by measuring body fat.
The Korean manufacturer was granted a patent that allows it to place the measurement sensors on the device itself or on the screen on a phone case. The sensors would then work together to measure fat levels once they come into contact with the human body and based on the illustration, the sensors would work by measuring readings from both hands.
The patent goes on to describe the feature as:
acquiring the object’s impedance information on the basis of the intensify of the input current and the intensity of the measured voltage; and acquiring the object’s body fat information on the basis of the impedance information.
Health and fitness is a focus not only for Samsung but for all manufacturers. Tracking and monitoring forms a large part of the new Apple Watch, while the Huawei TalkBand and Samsung Gear Fit are all fitness-related. Add in the tracking abilities of Android Wear and fitness is a key area that many are contesting but Samsung could dominate with its new patent.
The ability to measure body fat will certainly be interesting not only for consumers but for the medical profession as well. The biggest issue with current fitness features is that, often, the results aren’t accurate enough for professional uses. If Samsung can make the sensor readings accurate enough for use by the medicine professionals, smartphones may become useful in an entirely different way.
What do you think guys? Would you use body fat sensors on your next smartphone? Let us know your views in the comments below!
The Android 5.0 Lollipop update for the Verizon LG G3 earlier in the year was apparently plagued with technical issues and bugs, but a new update has just been release that should fix at least some of these problems.
The update is labelled version VS98524B, or simply 24B. The changelog states that the update introduces a few new features, including a Bluetooth button to the in-call screen. The Lollipop Interrupt feature from has also been implemented and notifications can now be set to completely off, Priority mode for messages and events, or all be allowed to sound. This option can be found under the Quick Settings menu.
Finally, Advanced Calling settings have been implemented, which allows for HD Voice and Video Calling. LTE Video Calling will also be automatically disabled if the customer isn’t subscribed to the service.
The original Lollipop update for the Verizon LG G3 caused some users to experience excessive battery drain, Wi-Fi stability issues and even random reboots. Oddly, there isn’t a list of any bug fixes included with the changelog, so it’s not clear exactly which of the issues have been addressed. The update unfortunately doesn’t bring the G3 up to the latest version of Android 5.1 Lollipop either.
The update should be rolling out to customers as we speak and will be making its way to handsets throughout the week. Keep an eye out for that OTA notification or check out http://ift.tt/1dVDBP4 for instructions on how to download the update manually.
We gave you a heads-up around a month ago that ASUS was planning to bring out a refresh of the ASUS ZenPad tablet line, and it looks like the first of those are out via Best Buy’s online store. We’re happy to tell you that if you need a tablet upgrade, these new ASUS tablets – a variant of the ZenPad S 8.0 and another of the ZenPad 7.0 – are now available for purchase online.
This variant of the ZenPad S 8.0 tablet is specifically the Z580C-B1 model, kind of a tweener right smack in between the high end Z380C and the lower end Z580CA. In typical ASUS fashion, there looks to be a lot of variants for specific product names. This variant has the 8-inch 2K resolution (2048 x 1536) display, and is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom 1.3Ghz Z3530 processor and 2GB or LPDDR3 RAM. This variant will have 32GB of internal storage, a 5MP/2MP camera combo, and will run on Android 5.1 Lollipop. The price point is at USD$199.99.
The smaller 7-inch variant is the ZenPad 7.0 Z170C-A1 tablet. This has a 7-inch 1024×600 (almost HD, haha) display, powered by a 1.1Ghz Intel Atom x3-C3200 processor. That will be supported by 1GB RAM and 16GB of internal storage. All of these will run under Android 5.0 Lollipop, and the pricing is at USD$99.99.
If you’re looking to upgrade your tablet, you may want to wait until ASUS trots out all the variants for the new ZenPad refresh. There’s bound to be one there with specs and at a price point that should be just right for you.
Around this time last year we first heard of the ESP8266 WiFi module. It’s still a great little module, providing WiFi connectivity for all those Internet of Things things at a price point of just $5. It’s an attractive price for a great module with a huge community pumping out a lot of projects for the platform.
Now there’s a new kid on the block. It’s called the EMW3165, and like the ESP it provides WiFi connectivity for a bunch of wireless projects. It’s much, much more capable with an STM32F4 ARM Coretex M4 microcontroller, a ‘self hosted’ networking library, more RAM, more Flash, and more GPIOs. How much, you’re probably asking yourself. It’s a dollar more than the ESP8266.
The datasheet for the module goes over all the gritty details. While this chip has 3.6V I/Os, there are some 5V tolerant pins – a boon for the Arduino crowd. It’s also surprisingly low power for something that connects to an 802.11n network. The real bonus here is the STM32F4 core – that’s a very, very powerful microcontroller, and if you want a 2-component WiFi webcam build, this is the part you should use. There will be a lot of interesting builds using this part. It’s also passed FCC certification. Very cool.
A common problem with “big data” analysis, according to MIT, is that the data sets are often too large to fit in RAM on a server or cluster. A team of researchers associated with the university has attempted to solve that problem for some workloads by doing away with RAM entirely.
Instead, the researchers’ experimental cluster, called BlueDBM, uses a network of solid-state storage controlled by field-programmable gate arrays, or FPGAs, to cut both costs and power consumption for …
British manufacturer Vertu has a prestigious history of producing incredibly crafted smartphones adorned with precious stones and gems but the one thing its handsets lacked for many years was performance.
Until the business – which was established by Nokia in 1998 – was sold into private equity in 2013, the company’s handsets ran the Symbian OS but this all changed; first, the Vertu Ti (February 2013) and then, the Signature Touch (June 2014) saw a switch to Android with performance now a key part of the experience.
The specs of next Vertu smartphone – codenamed the V06 – have leaked thanks to a visit to popular benchmark, GeekBench and the handset is likely to be the most powerful Vertu smartphone to-date. A new benchmark score has revealed that the high-end device is powered by an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and 4GB RAM – which would make the Vertu V06 part of an exclusive club with only a handful of smartphones sporting 4GB RAM – along with the latest Android 5.1.1 Lollipop OS.
There’s no photos of the new smartphone but based on past Vertu smartphones, it will likely be kitted out with metals, precious stones and quite possibly, leather. The handset will probably cost upwards of $8000 and while the Snapdragon 810 wouldn’t be our process of choice, if you’re spending this much on the handset, the processor is probably the least of your concerns.