Android 6.0 Marshmallow, thoroughly reviewed

Marshmallow Nexus

Ars Technica has thoroughly reviewed Android 6.0 Marshmallow.  Read the whole 10+ page review, or satisfy yourself with this very short summary:

The Good

  • The new home screen adds tons of genuinely useful features. App Search, predictive apps, vertical scrolling, and the uninstall shortcut are all great time savers.
  • The new permissions system lets users give informed consent to access their data while keeping them in the loop about breaking things from permission denial. Developers get to have a dialog with the user about why they need a permission, and old apps are fed fake data so they can be denied access without crashing.
  • “Adoptable Storage” finally makes SD cards as good as internal storage. Now if only there were Marshmallow devices with SD cards.
  • The fingerprint API isn’t groundbreaking even among the Android devices, but it’s the kind of ecosystem building that only Google can do.

The Bad

  • There still isn’t auto rotate support for the home screen. Google teased us in the developer preview but the feature was cut.
  • The new permissions page is a great first step, but it doesn’t list all of the access to the system an app actually has. Special settings like “Notification Access,” access to the accessibilities framework, and more are scattered all over the settings.
  • Apps can opt out of power saving features like Doze and App Standby just by changing their priority settings. We don’t trust developers to play by the rules.

The Ugly

  • There is still no solution for getting Marshmallow out to the billion+ devices out there.

Upcoming Android devices

The touch screen on my Nexus 4 is dying.  There’s a strip right across the center, which doesn’t work anymore.  The device is still alive, but it won’t last long.  In fact, I’ve already borrowed an old Sony Xperia from my brother, for the day when the angels will take my phone to the Android heaven.

With that in mind, I started looking for what’s going to be my next device.  I’m planning to get one closer to Christmas maybe, so not exactly in a rush.  The official Google blog’s post “S’more to love across all your screens” from a couple of days ago came just in time.

Android devices

The line-up covers upcoming tablets, phones, and Chromecast devices.  On the smartphone front, there are two devices – 5.7 inch Nexus 6P built by Huawei, and a 5.2 inch Nexus 5X built by LG.  Nexus 6P starts at $499, which I’m not yet prepared to pay for a smartphone (even though I use it heavily on a daily basis).  Nexus 5X starts at $379, which is much more reasonable.  Both phones feature a fingerprint scanner (finally, away with all those passwords and patterns), and a 12.3 MP camera for better pictures.  Nexus 6P comes in an aluminum body, which sounds nice.

Nexus 5X seems like an excellent option for me.  Of course, I’ll have to wait and see when it gets released, real-priced, and reviewed.

Replicant – fully free Android distribution

replicant-4.2-crespo-homescreen

Replicant is a fully free Android distribution running on several devices, a free software mobile operating system putting the emphasis on freedom and privacy/security.

Found via a mention in the Slashdot interview with Richard Stallman.

Cyprus developers can now sell paid apps on Google Play Store

Android Police reports exciting news:

Today, the doors are open for developers from 12 additional countries to register for merchant accounts and begin selling paid apps to the world.

Support for merchant accounts has been added for:

  • Bahrain
  • Bolivia
  • Bulgaria
  • Cyprus
  • Dominican Republic
  • Estonia
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Malta
  • Panama

Just to clarify, it was already possible for customers in these countries to buy paid apps and make in-app purchases, but developers registered in these countries were limited to submitting only free apps without IAPs – until now. Without support for merchant accounts, developers usually have to rely on advertising revenue, if they can get it, or turn to alternate business models.

Out of the 152 countries Google Play currently accepts for developer registration, 74 now support merchant accounts.

This has been a long time awaited update!

Unexpected update : Android 5.0.1

It’s just been a few days since I took a leap of faith and upgraded both my phone and tablet to Android 5.0 (the Lollipop thing).  My feelings about it are mixed though.  On one hand, I love the updated user interface.  It just makes more sense to me and closes some of the very dated rants that you can find in the archives of this blog.  On the other hand, that’s been a rather buggy release.  The things that I’ve noticed are:

  1. Battery life.  Both my phone and my tablet eat more battery now and charge slower.  That’s especially annoying with the phone.  Previously, two hours of commuting every day (one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening) meant that I didn’ t have to charge my phone ever – the charge during the drive was enough.  With Android 5 though, it’s discharging while using the same two apps as before – Waze for navigation and SmartPlayer for audiobooks.
  2. Crashes.  My tablet gets stack with the same games which worked before just fine.
  3. Ringtones reset.  I have two mp3 ringtones on my phone – one I use for all incoming calls, the other for all my alarms.  For some reason, I can only use any ringtone once.  If I try to set the same ringtone for the second alarm, then the first alarm resets ringtone to some random built-in ringtone.  Same happens every time in all kinds of combinations.

But the last few days weren’t enough for me to get too annoyed about it.  Yet.  Quite surprisingly, today a notification for the Android 5.0.1 showed up on my tablet.  I wasn’t even following the news yet to see when it will come out.  That’s pretty cool – hopefully it’ll take care of some of my issues.  If you want to know what’s changed, here is a good coverage.

Google Play : Best Android Apps of 2014

And so it starts … With December 1st hitting the calendar, everyone suddenly remembers that the year is almost over.  The endless lists of best, worst, and mediocre are starting to arrive.  Google Play features the list of Best Apps of 2014 for Android platform.  There’s not a single word on how these were selected, but the word “promotion” in the URL might give you a hint or two.

android apps