All posts by John Hoff

New Hearthstone expansion ‘League of Explorers’ is now live

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Blizzard just keeps churning out content for its insanely popular card battle game Hearthstone. The new expansion is called “League of Explorers” and you get to play among a group of archaeologist-explorers off to seek the mysteries behind famous Warcraft artifacts. Of course, the familiar card battle gameplay is there, but the new content keeps everything fresh.

League of Explorers will put you in a journey to uncover the pieces of the “Staff or Origination” until you complete the whole artifact. This means battling enemies and other shady characters off to seek the artifact for their own malicious purposes. The battles, of course, will be fought on your familiar Hearthstone gameboard.

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There will be a bunch of new cards, 45 in total, for this new expansion, and you need to pay USD$19.99 to get in. Pretty small price to pay if your Hearthstone games have been becoming stale as of late. A new adventure means at the very least, new reasons for you to keep gaming.

How long before Blizzard calls it quits with Hearthstone? We honestly don’t know, but it feels like that time will not be some time soon. From the looks of it, the company is still earning from Hearthstone, and as long as they can keep the game content fresh, people will continue to play the game.

SOURCE: Blizzard

Playstation Vue now on Amazon TV devices, Chromecast soon

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If you missed out on what Playstation Vue is, you might want to check it out. It is for real, honest-to-goodness, internet television. If you’ve ever imagined cable TV, but with all the perks of online resources and DVR recording, but without having to contact your cable TV guy, then that’s Playstation Vue. And you get it now on Amazon devices as well, with Chromecast in the pipeline.

Good news for Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick owners – you will now be able to use Sony’s internet television mojo even if you don’t own a Sony PS3 or PS4. The app is now installable on your Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. From there, you can now be privy to PlayStation Vue’s nationwide offerings, such as SHOWTIME and Fox Soccer Plus, or even get multi-channel packages available in your area.

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There’s even a promo available, if you availe of Playstation Vue’s Core or Elite packages – this entitles you to a free Amazon Fire TV Stick. Pretty cool, Sony. Playstation Vue’s Core and Elite packages are now on holiday mode, which means lower prices for all of us. The Core package is USD$54.99 (from $59.99) and Elite is now available for USD$64.99 (from $69.99).

Another exciting factoid from this announcement is that Sony is making this service available for the Google Chromecast. That means Sony is casting its net far and wide for this internet TV service, and people are starting to notice it.

SOURCE: Sony Playstation

Bluetooth getting an upgrade in 2016, longer range and faster speed

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A couple of days ago, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced what it has in store for the communication protocol in 2016 – and it may be exciting times for us. Bluetooth is ubiquitous in mobile and home devices that we almost expect it to be present everywhere, and it is easy to forget that there is actually a team developing it and improving it. Well, here comes progress.

First up, the next Bluetooth versions in 2016 will extend range to almost 4x the current range of typical Class 2 devices, which is at 10 meters. This will be a boon to smart homes and normal consumer connections within the home and the workplace. Imagine Bluetooth coverage that extends from your home to your backyard and your lawn. Pretty nice.

Secondly, Bluetooth SIG is promising a 100 percent increase in data transfer speed, without increasing power consumption. Now that is truly good news. At this point, current Bluetooth 4.0 speeds are at 24Mbit/s. That will take transfer speeds to almost 50Mbit/s, giving you more flexibility for critical apps and communication applications.

Lastly, there is the promise of mesh networking, allowing networked Bluetooth devices to provide coverage for whole buildings and homes. 2016 looks to be an exciting year for Bluetooth, don’t you think?

SOURCE: Bluetooth SIG

Even the old Nexus S can run Android Marshmallow

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So you have one of the classic Google Nexus devices just laying around gathering dust – the Samsung-made Google Nexus S. Google developer Dmitry Grinberg has been making a lot of fun projects these days, especially trying to get older Nexus devices to run Android Marshmallow. He’s successfully ported Android 6.0 to other older devices, but the age of the Nexus S and the hardware that came with it produced some challenges. That said, the effort to port Android M was still successful.

We may have to remind you of the Google Nexus S. Some people say it’s a rebranded Samsung Galaxy S. That would be an oversimplification, but the two models are closely related. The Nexus S was launched in 2010, and originally ran with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. It was updated up to Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean, but no further than that. It was powered by a 1Ghz Cortex-A8 processor, powered by 512MB RAM and 16GB internal storage. Pretty old, right?

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Plus, the PowerVR GPU was given a driver that Android M would not use, so some coding gymnastics had to be done there. There were other cool hacks done for this build, given more detail at the source link below, if you’re into that kind of stuff.

But the port is relatively successful, and Android Marshmallow runs on the Nexus S as well. Get the developer’s specific instructions on how to do this, if you want to give your Nexus S some Marshmallow flavors. The download links are all at the source link below.

SOURCE: Dmitry Grinberg

Razer Forge TV, Serval gaming controller no longer in Play Store

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We wrote about some of Razer’s gaming products being made available in the Google Play Store a while back, particularly the company’s Android TV console called Razer Forge TV and the Razer Serval gaming controller. We were wondering particularly about the Forge TV, because it competed directly with the Nexus Player, which was Google’s own product (made by ASUS). Now the competition is out of the Play Store.

The Razer Forge TV gaming bundle, sold at the Google Play Store which also included one unit of the Serval controller – which was listed at USD$149 – is now marked as “not available” at the online store. Even the listing for the single item Serval controller (USD$79.00) is also marked as not available.

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For options within the Google Play Store, you can try the Nexus Player priced at USD$99.00 and the separate Gamepad for the Nexus Player, which is being sold at a cheaper USD$39.99. Looks like Google wants to make sure that the low end Android TV console crowd browsing in the Play Store will only have the Nexus Player as an option.

For the higher-end crowd, the NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV console – probably the most powerful Android device you can get your hands on these days in terms of pure processing and graphics power – is still being sold at the Play Store for USD$199.99.

SOURCE: Google Play Store

ARM announces new Cortex-A35 processor cores, focus on emerging markets

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Looks like everybody who’s anybody in the mobile processor industry is announcing one new product or another, namely Samsung and Qualcomm. ARM is a supplier to both companies in that it provides the application processor cores that these companies usually use in their integrated SoC (system-on-a –chip) products. ARM’s newest baby is the Cortex-A35 processor, and it looks ready to conquer the emerging markets.

The market for devices in North America and Europe pretty much run on a set schedule when manufacturers launch their flagships and midrange products and all that. But the more exciting and untapped markets in Asia, Africa, and Latin America are the ones that manufacturers are targeting these days. And with the Cortex-A35 processor as a basic component, this move by manufacturers to emerging markets just gained more momentum.

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The new Cortex-A35 processor boasts of being a 64-bit capable processor with the lowest power consumption among ARM’s products. This means that manufacturers can now have 64-bit processors on their low-end to midrange smartphones to be offered for emerging markets. “We’re now enabling 64-bit features for the next billion smartphone users,” says Ian Smythe, ARM director of CPU marketing.

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While the US market will always focus on bigger, more powerful smartphones, gadgets for new markets need to be low cost, with power-efficient 64-bit architectures. ARM says that the gadgets using A35 processors should start showing up by mid-2016.

VIA: Anandtech

Samsung takes the lid off the new Exynos flagship processor

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Just a day or so after Qualcomm made public its newest baby, the Snapdragon 820, we are seeing Samsung do the same with their newest processor from the Samsung foundries – the Exynos 8 Octa. Speaking of Qualcomm, these two new processors are practically brothers, as the SD820 was made in the same foundries with the same 14-nanometer FinFET process. But the focus is on the new Exynos processor and what it brings to the market.

Aside from having a smaller footprint than most processors built with a 20-nanometer process, the Exynos 8 Octa boasts of a 30 percent performance improvement over the last generation Exynos 7 Octa. It also features a highly notable 10 percent improvement in power efficiency from the last generation, making the devices that will carry this work better for less battery consumption.

The Exynos 8 Octa will also feature the latest Cat. 12/13 LTE modem from Samsung, the fastest of its kind these days (but only if your carrier has the bandwith to offer as well). Lastly, the new processor will feature ARM’s latest Mali-T880 GPU for immersive graphics and visuals.

It is rumored that the Samsung Galaxy S7 – to be launched in February 2016 – will sport variants that have the Qualcomm SD820 (in the US and China) and variants that will feature the Exynos 8 Octa (elsewhere in the world). We hope to see the numbers on this new processor soon, so watch this space.

SOURCE: Samsung

The BlackBerry Vienna may be another Android phone

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With still nothing to show for from the launch and the release of its first Android phone, Canadian gadget manufacturer BlackBerry is rumored to be launching a second Android smartphone in the wake of the launch of the BlackBerry Priv. This one is coded as “Vienna” for now, but these leaked renders may give us an idea of what the design will bring.

First up, these images were leaked to the people over at Crackberry, who are basically on top of all things BlackBerry. The main aesthetic detail is that from these purported renders, the Vienna seems to have done away with the Priv's in favor a more traditional BlackBerry layout – this one with a front-facing physical keyboard.

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From the renders, it looks like the keyboard takes its design from that of the Priv's, but it's early days, and we simply can’t tell from these renders alone. The size of the screen is another factor that we obviously would like to know, but that is not available for now.

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The people at Crackberry are obviously positive about the company’s offerings these days, but we’re on a more reserved stance. The BlackBerry Priv might be a good phone, at the very least, but the USD$700 pricing is ridiculous at best. We hope BlackBerry takes a more sober stance with this next phone.

SOURCE: Crackberry

AutoBright is a brightness manager app for Android devices in vehicles

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If you feel like the adaptive screen brightness sensors on your Android are too unstable for your tastes when you’re using it in your vehicle (for navigation) – maybe this new app called AutoBright might be for you. Adaptive screen brightness sensors react real-time to environmental data, so your phone might go up and down on the brightness dial because of street lights and such. Maybe this will solve that problem.

First up, the AutoBright app does not rely on real-time data. It gets the sunset/sunrise time in your area once a day, when you’re connected to the Internet. It then gradually adjusts your device brightness during those times, fading to brighter or darker depending on the time. That alone should tell you this might be useful.

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But the app also has a very low footprint – it’s “set and forget” like. The app does not query GPS locations every single time, and does not require that much of your device’s resources to run. The app is also optimized to run on very low battery usage.

The downside, if there is one, is that you only get a 10-day trial for this. It’s full-featured, but you have to pay for the app after 10 days of use. If you want to try it out, check the download link below and tell us about it.

DOWNLOAD: Google Play Store

Samsung planning to release entry-level fitness tracker

Samsung-Gear-Fit-FeatureThe people at SamMobile, always in the know for all things Samsung, are saying that the Korean gadget and electronics giant may be planning to make a play on the entry-level wearables market with a new and affordable fitness tracker. Samsung has been a player in the midrange and high-end wearables market – most recently with the Samsung Gear S2 – but this could be a new direction for the company in the lower end of the market. The new device is coded as the SM-R150, being called internally as the “Triathlon”. Also remember that the code for the Samsung Gear Fit is SM-R350, so this might have lower features and technology – most notably, people are saying this new wearable might not have a heart-rate sensor. But the recent move by Samsung to release the “S Health” suite and the Samsung Gear Apps to non-Samsung devices might be a play on making this new wearable compatible with non-Samsung devices. That is clearly an interesting play for Samsung to make. Xiaomi-Mi-Band The market for entry-level trackers is saturated mostly by Fitbit devices and Xiaomi’s Mi Band. A Samsung device in this niche might shake up the hierarchy a bit. Let’s all wait and see. VIA: SamMobile

Xiaomi cuts price of Enhanced Redmi 2A, celebrating 10 million units shipped

Xiaomi-Redmi-2AThe Redmi 2A is one of Xiaomi’s runaway successes, with the China-based manufacturer celebrating 10 million units shipped of the entry level phone priced at jus USD$78. Xiaomi has released an enhanced version of the Redmi 2A – now with 2GB RAM and 16GB internal storage, but it was slightly more expensive than the regular unit. But because of this milestone, Xiaomi is bringing down the price of the enhanced version down to USD$78, same as the regular unit. So what are you getting for your USD$78? The enhanced Redmi 2A features a 4.7-inch 720p HD display powered by a Leadcore LC1860 1.5GHz quad-core processor, now backstopped ably by 2GB RAM. No more lags on your regular apps, at the very least. There’s bigger capacity at 16GB internal storage, and there’s an 8MP/2MP camera combo. redmi-2a-price-cut The phone also has dual SIM slots, and has 4G LTE connectivity. The phone will have all the basic stuff you need on an Android device, and then some. The problem is actually getting your hands on one. People in Asia will have a slight advantage, as the enhanced Redmi 2A will go on sale on November 11 in China. If you’re looking for a steal at the entry level market, this one is it. US consumers will have to do some gymnastics in getting the phone stateside – maybe even contacting someone who is actually in China or Asia. VIA: GizmoChina

iFixit publishes Sony Xperia Z5 teardown, modular parts easy to repair

Sony_Xperia_Z5_premium_review_04aThe community of teardown techs at iFixit are a boon to the mobile device industry, making repairs that much easier. This time they publish a teardown of Sony’s newest flagship, the Sony Xperia Z5. It’s worth mentioning that the teardown was done not by iFixit’s official techs, but a tech from their community – hence the lack of substantial comment on the build. xperiaz5_td_1 First up, getting into the Sony Xperia Z5’s unibody design requires skill, but it should not be that difficult for trained technicians. You need to apply a little bit of heat so that the adhesive softens, then a suction cup and some prying tools here and there and you should be inside the phone. The battery unit is also stuck by some light adhesive, and some prying is needed to loosen that. xperiaz5_td_2 Once inside, you immediately notice that like its aesthetic design on the outside of Xperia devices, Sony also engineers the inside to be modular and very orderly in layout. There are some small connections here and there that you need to be reminded/aware of so you don’t break them, but the inside is very easy to handle. xperiaz5_td_3 Sony wins on this one again, the repairability of the Xperia Z5 is way up there because of the modular parts and the very elegant layout repair techs have to deal with when looking inside. Of course, it would still be better for you not to break anything, yes? SOURCE: iFixit

BlackBerry Priv’s proprietary apps ported, available now in APK format

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We can all say what we want about the BlackBerry Priv – and we pretty much have – but there might still be some people out there who want BlackBerry’s apps that can only be found on the Priv. We don’t want to have to purchase the USD$700 flagship phone just so we can use that nice Calendar app, so some nice people at XDA have ripped out the apps from the Priv’s OS and have made them available in installable APK formats.

First up, we have the Priv’s on-screen keyboard (yes, because you can’t have the slide-out one for free) – which has been tested to be working without the other apps being installed. There are some weird things that happened on TouchWiz-based phones (Samsung), but they can be tweaked so that the app works right.

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Next up are the ones you probably have to install together – BlackBerry Services and BlackBerry Launcher. If you liked what you saw from the BlackBerry Priv’s main launcher, then you can get it now. Lastly – and probably the most useful of the lot – is the Calendar app, which is actually not a bad one to have on your phone.

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Check out the source link below for the official XDA thread, and make sure you click on the right download links. The thread also has the other BB apps – like the Hub and the other widgets – but those remain unpatched and will be unstable on your devices.

SOURCE: XDA

Root and S-Off achieved on HTC One A9

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One peculiarity of HTC devices is the S-Off/S-On system, which protects the device from being tweaked with non-official ROMs and tweaks. So to fully gain root access on an HTC device, S-Off has to be achieved first. XDA developer “jcase” has posted on the XDA forums a video which proves he has gained S-Off as well as root of the new HTC One A9.

If you want to gain full root access on an HTC device, usually that will mean that you have to get S-Off on HTC’s proprietary bootloader. S-Off means that the NAND portion of the internal storage is unlocked and can be written to. HTC has included this proprietary security check to hinder any custom ROM, splash image, recovery, and other tweaks to be installed on the HTC device.

Now there are ways to gain S-Off on an HTC device, and “jcase” with the video above, has just shown us that he has gained S-Off, and therefore, full root access of the HTC One A9 device. He does not share his S-Off process, but rather points to the Sunshine tool, a popular paid S-Off alternative, which he says should soon support the HTC One A9.

What he does share is his way towards gaining root, which he details in his thread (see source link below). If you want to take a look and even ask him for a root build, you can comment on his thread. S-Off will probably still be a ways off via Sunshine, but knowing that “jcase” has gained it is a good sign for HTC One A9 users.

SOURCE: XDA

Juicebox Games tweaks fantasy strategy genre with StormBorn

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With a lot of gaming outfits and app developers fighting for the attention of gamers all over the world, the push to be different and unique can either be a boon or a bane. That said, we haven’t seen any successful game that we have right now that did not offer something new or novel on the table for mobile gamers to consume. This is what Juicebox Games hopes to achieve with “StormBorn: War of Legends”.

A lot of online strategy games start you out with the basic tasks of building your base/kingdom/castle to make sure you have resources and to defend against attacks. But where StormBorn tries to deviate is through its hero cards. Players are then associated with heroes that can give their fortresses and economy boosts, while being able to “fight” other heroes in a card battle face-off.

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This way, the battles are more detailed if you have a face of a hero to go with it, not just some nameless general who went on to die for your cause. The mix of strategy and card-battle genres is a curious pair, but we have to see if Juicebox pulls off something interesting here.

If you want to try the game, it’s free to download (via the link below) with IAPs. Try it, and see if there’s enough to shout about. Tell us about it, of course.

DOWNLOAD: Google Play Store

Unofficial CM13 builds show up, not quite there yet

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It will take a while for CyanogenMod, that legendary name that corresponds to one of the most used Android custom ROMs in the world, will put out an official build marked CM13, or the version that carries Android 6.0 Marshmallow flavor. But that’s not stopping these independent developers from putting out unofficial builds. They’re not quite there yet – bugs and all that – but these are usable to a point, and you can actually help by pointing out the bugs.

First up is the unofficial CM13 build by XDA member “leonardoafa”, for usage on the Moto X 2014 edition. The developer says that most of the features work – the only bugs discovered so far is that the lockscreen security is not working, and the “energy saver” feature enabled results in a boot loop. Other than that, most things work. You can check his official XDA thread for the download links and instructions.

The second ROM is a multi-platform one, albeit only on Sprout4 Android One devices. The build was created by XDA member “Swapnil Solanki”, and like the other custom ROMs, this one has bugs as well. The major one is that mobile data doesn’t work just quite yet, so people using this ROM will have to be content with WiFi connectivity. Check out his XDA thread here.

The last one is an unofficial CM13 ROM for the Samsung Galaxy Note 4. I doubt if casual users will use this ROM to test out on their expensive flagship phablet, but I know of some hardcore developer dudes who would probably enjoy testing this out. The build was created by XDA member “gekkehenkie11”, and as always, there are known bugs. This includes a non-working fingerprint scanner and NFC, and some battery drains. Check out the XDA thread here if you’re interested.

SOURCES: XDA

Google explains the ‘upside down images’ issue in the Nexus 5X

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Not a good time for Google Nexus phones these past few days, but for some issues raised against the phones, there are some explanations. This is why Google’s tech lead for Android camera software and framework posted in Reddit to give an explanation for the complaints of users getting “upside down” photos in their LG-made Google Nexus 5X phones.

First up, Reddit user “etalvala” says that there are two ways you can mount a camera sensor on a device motherboard – the normal way, which produces normal images, and the reverse landscape mode, which needs software to automatically flip the image so that it comes out “right side up” on the phone’s display. There’s nothing wrong with the camera, it’s just that wiring and hardware considerations on the motherboard and the device’s internal setup sometimes necessitates the reverse landscape mounting. This is the specific issue with the Nexus 5X.

The issue is that some apps are not using the correct API to call for the automatic correcting of the mode for the Nexus 5X cameras. Obviously, Google knew about it and created an API for correcting the mode, but some developers have failed to use the correct software resources.

So if you use an alternate camera app on your Nexus 5X and it shows a photo with incorrect orientation (upside down), Google strongly suggests to report it to the app developer immediately so they can correct it.

SOURCE: Reddit

Some Nexus 6P owners reporting spontaneous cracking of glass visor

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Uh-oh. Things are beginning to pile up on the Huawei-made Google Nexus 6P. This time we’re getting reports that the glass visor that covers the main camera area of the phone somehow spontaneously snaps and cracks. Just sitting there, without anyone touching it or putting any pressure to it, the glass cracks. Whoops.

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Some Nexus 6P owners are going on Reddit to tell their Nexus 6P stories, complete with pictures, and the pictures don’t tell an encouraging story about the embattled Nexus device. One user reported that he left the device screen up on a table, and what followed was a loud, spontaneous “snap”. He picked up the device and found the glass visor had cracked and there was a pile of glass shavings on the table. So far three users have posted their images.

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One user has gotten in contact with Google, sent his Nexus 6P and claims that Google is sending him a replacement unit, no questions asked. Some of the other users are contacting their mobile carriers, particularly Rogers of Canada, who refused to replace the phone and point them over to Google/Huawei.

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This is not the first design/physical flaw that has been reported about the Nexus 6P. A YouTube user recently tested snapping his Nexus 6P in half, to cringe-inducing results (yes it did snap in half quite easily). Commenters on his thread said that the burn test and scratch test he did initially compromised the integrity of the phone. So he repeated the whole thing on a new Nexus 6P out of the box. Same results. Ouch.

SOURCE: Reddit

OmniROM has Marshmallow for your OnePlus One

omniromYou understand that OnePlus is right now busy trying to get the OnePlus 2 into the hands of the millions who ordered and bought them, while also trying to make sure they don’t make the same shipping and manufacturing mistakes they made for the recently-launched OnePlus X. With an outfit that small, you can understand why the OnePlus One is still on Lollipop, and no official Marshmallow build out yet. Well, that’s when you turn to the aftermarket development community, and the OmniROM team may just have what you need – an Android 6.0 build for the OnePlus One, give or take some bugs. The OmniROM team is one of the more decent development teams out there, making custom ROMs for different devices – this one a Marshmallow build for the OnePlus One. oneplus-one-back-angle As always, you void any sort of warranty when installing a custom ROM, because it needs a custom recovery – and OmniROM requires TWRP. This may require you gaining root access, so in any case, your warranty is void. There may still be some bugs to this, so you have to report it to the developers via the official XDA thread (see source link below). Download links for the ROM are also there. The OnePlus One is actually one of those flagship phones that work well on Lollipop, so you might just choose to wait it out until the official update arrives. Then again, you might be tired of waiting. So whatever you choose, make sure you do it right and clean. SOURCE: XDA

Ubisoft launches Anno 2205 Android spin-off, mines asteroids

Anno-2205-Asteroid-Miner-Android-GameOut there in the world of PC games, Ubisoft released a new game to add to their Anno franchise – this one is called Anno 2205. You can probably get a lot of information about the new game online, although it is quite interesting to see if it builds on the older series. Our task today is to look at Anno 2205: Asteroid Miner, a spin off game for Android. This is not the city building game that the main PC game is, the Android game has a simpler, more menial task – mine asteroids for minerals. The gameplay? Pretty easy – it’s a puzzle game, not very far from Bejeweled or any of the “connect 3 of a kind” games you know. Anno-2205-Asteroid-Miner The game has over 180 levels for you to work through, so this one will keep you occupied and gaming for a bit. And interestingly enough, it has a connection to the main game if you actually play that as well. The rare minerals that you mine in this game can be transferred to the main game to boost construction and such.
If you’re into these kinds of puzzle games, pick up the game via the download link below. Puzzle games are a dime-a-dozen, so it would be good to see if this one is a bit more enjoyable. DOWNLOAD: Google Play Store

YouTube ramps up the virtual reality features

youtube-logo-name-1920As more and more virtual reality (VR) technology is rolling out of manufacturers and into the market, and VR tech is actually getting more accessible to users (read: getting cheaper), purveyors of content are now making sure they get a ride on that bandwagon as well. YouTube, Google’s very own online video mega-repository, is making sure that the new version of its app is VR friendly. First up, the YouTube app now supports a new category of content called “VR Videos”. These are videos created with VR-enabled camera setups like Google’s Jump and other such cameras out there in the market. The resulting video is one that will give viewers a different sense of depth and access to different directions. With content like this, you can press the new “Google Cardboard” icon on the settings, pop your phone into a Google Cardboard viewer, and you’re good to go. JUMP_WT_660_WHT The second one is for existing YouTube content that you can view on a Google Cardboard viewer for that cinematic and private viewing experience. You can also tap the Google Cardboard icon on the video and view the content on your viewer, as the app configures it so that it is optimized for a VR headset. VR_MODE_660_WHT Pretty cool, YouTube. These new features are now active on the latest version of the YouTube app. Check out your update notifications, or download the app via the Play Store if you still don’t have it. SOURCE: Google

Google Play Services 8.3 is out, here’s what’s new

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Whatever you say about Google or however you may rail against them for using an all-encompassing system like the Google Play Services, the system works and makes Android a pretty well-rounded platform. Google has been improving the APIs that app developers can use with Google Play Services, and version 8.3 is no different.

First up, Google Play Services is introducing a simplified SignInButton API. First up, you’re going to be seeing the new Google branding more and more when signing into Google Play from any app. Also, Google is making this “sign in” process simpler – no more device permissions and just one tap for basic profile access. Previously, this would have taken you a couple of steps to do.

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Secondly, Google Play Services 8.3 is a boon to app developers, as it makes coding the App Invites process easier. If a user likes an app, App Invites was put in place so they could invite their friends to try it out as well. This will mean easier integration into the code of an app, resulting in easier ways for users to share their apps.

Lastly, there is a power and battery usage tweak on the DataApi – the gatekeeper API for when your device syncs with cloud and online sources. Now this API has urgency levels so that the system will know which items should be synced as a priority and which ones can be done at a later time. This means overall savings in power and battery usage for when your device syncs to its networks.

SOURCE: Google

Evervolv ROM brings Android Marshmallow to HP TouchPad

hp-touchpad-largeRemember the HP TouchPad? We can forgive you if you don’t – it was one of those things. The HP TouchPad was famously discontinued 49 days after it was launched. How that happened was a different story altogether, but suffice it to say there are a number of devices out there that survived. It launched with the now defunct webOS software, but people have unofficially ported Android to it – very stably running Android 4.4 KitKat. Now we have the Evervolv ROM, which attempts to bring Marshmallow flavors to the 4-year old device. The HP TouchPad had a 9.7-inch screen with an HD resolution (1024x768). That was powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and 1GB RAM. It was a pretty robust device in its time, and it requires little effort of the imagination that Android Marshmallow could somehow be run from it. That is what the developers behind Evervolv ROM is trying to do, powered by community-based development. hptouchpad_android422 At this point, you can actually flash Evervolv 6.0.0p1 to it and have Marshmalllow sort of running, with certain bugs. Majorly, camera and Bluetooth is still not working with this release. Also, mounting an external SD card is not working. Apart from that, you have a working HP TouchPad on Android Marshmallow, and some people have gone on less just to get Android 6.0 running on their device. Depending on how fast the community development work goes on this, it is still up in the air when you might see an update where most features are working. But heck, your HP TouchPad is a generational survivor anyways, so why not take the risk? Check out the source link below for directions on how to install Evervolv on your device. SOURCE: XDA

Android distribution shows Lollipop at a quarter, Marshmallow shows up

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It’s time for the monthly numbers and see how our favorite Android versions are holding up. Just as a quick initial caveat, if any of you guys are holding a torch for Froyo and Ice Cream Sandwich, allow me to break to you the bad news – it’s not looking good. Meanwhile, Android Lollipop is just about gaining momentum in its popularity and usage, and we have a new entry into the table.

First up though, we need to tell you that Jelly Bean and KitKat are still the most used versions out there – they are monsters in this table. Jelly Bean accounts for 29 percent of all Android users globally, while KitKat accounts for a still humongous 37.8 percent. That said, KitKat numbers are going down, coming from around 39 percent last month. Jelly Bean was at 30.2 percent in October.

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Lollipop has finally reached the quarter mark, accounting for 25.6 percent of all Android devices out there. With KitKat and Jelly Bean numbers going down, you can expect Lollipop market share to keep rising. Lollipop was at 23.5 percent last month.

Lastly, we finally have Android Marshmallow on the table, with a 0.3 percent market share. Any percentages below 0.1% are excluded from the table, and in October, we didn’t see any Marshmallow numbers yet. Expect that percentage to grow soon.

SOURCE: Google

TWRP version 2.8.7.1 for Nexus 6P drops, now has decryption

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A couple of days back, Team Win Recovery Project – or simply TWRP to those in need and in the know – pushed out a new version of their custom recovery for Google’s new flagship biggie, the Nexus 6P. The problem with that version was that it did not support decryption from the recovery – a problem since most Nexus 6P users out there have enabled encryption on their spanking new phones anyways. This has been rectified now with a new version.

TWRP team member Ethan Yonker (aka DeesTroy) announced via his Google+ account that TWRP version 2.8.7.1 will support decryption straight from recovery, and all of us custom ROM users and modders can now use the latest version of TWRP on the Nexus 6P, even with stock software encrypted. Heck yeah.

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Yonker did also announce that owners of the Nexus 5X will have to wait a bit, since the TWRP team still doesn’t have a unit to actually test out the software they have – which is, you know, a problem. But as soon as they get their Nexus 5X from LG, you can probably expect the build for the smaller Nexus phone to be out as quickly as possible as well, and with decryption capabilities.

You can already download the 2.8.7.1 build at TWRP’s online repository – look for the “angler” code name for the Nexus 6P. For the Nexus 5X, the latest build available is still one version down.

SOURCE: +DeesTroy