Google just released Android 7.0 Nougat, and as usual, they're doing a staged rollout. This means that most users won't actually get the update on their Nexus devices for a few weeks—that is, unless they take matters into their own hands.
Google has already issued a few updates to Android 7.0 Nougat. There aren't many headlining features, as these minor updates are mostly bug fixes and performance improvements. But there's a few security enhancements as well, so staying up-to-date with the latest patches is important for a number of reasons.
The beauty of Nexus devices is they receive firmware updates faster than any other Android phone, and keep getting updates for years longer than most of the competition. This means that you can always use the great new features that come along with an Android update, and even more importantly, your phone gets monthly security patches to keep hackers and malware at bay.
If you find yourself switching between Android devices frequently—for instance, your Nexus 6P and a Samsung tablet—you've probably noticed how the button placement can be different. Normally, it's back, then home, then the recent apps button, from left to right. But Samsung devices have this backwards, which can lead to frustration when muscle memory kicks in and the back button isn't where you expect it to be.
For many people, the two main advantages of buying a Nexus device are prompt updates and the ability to root without much hassle. But in a cruel twist of fate, these two features are almost mutually exclusive, since OTA updates will refuse to run on rooted devices.
Ever since developer bponury created his TouchControl app for the Galaxy Nexus back in 2011, manufacturers and modders alike have been racing to re-implement the "Double-tap-to-wake" functionality it brought to the table. We've seen LG do it with their "Knock On" feature, we've seen Motorola put a twist on it with "Active Display," and we've even seen Google implement the feature in their Nexus 9 tablet.
Every phone has its issues and quirks, and the Nexus 5 is no exception to this rule. One of the most common troubleshooting questions asked by its owners is "Why does my Nexus 5 keep shutting off or restarting?" where the device suddenly decides to reboot or power off randomly on its own.
The Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P have identical camera hardware—in fact, both use one of the highest-end camera sensors ever put into a smartphone. The only real difference between the cameras on Google's latest flagship devices is that the 6P natively supports electronic image stabilization (EIS) whereas the 5X does not.
Google has a habit of starting on new projects for Android, then hiding them away if they didn't quite complete them in time for a major release. We saw this with multi-window mode last year (which is now an official Nougat feature), and this year, there was the hidden night mode setting that was easily activated.
Android Marshmallow was recently released, and as we've grown to expect, a root method was quickly made available to devices running the brand new operating system. Legendary root developer Chainfire has stated that he's working his way towards retiring from the scene, but he still had enough left in the tank to quickly publish an update to his popular SuperSU root method.
Google has finally released the next version of the world's leading operating system—Android 6.0 Marshmallow. This latest iteration isn't as much of a visual overhaul as Lollipop was, but it packs in more new functionality than almost any update before it. Awesome features like Now on Tap, granular permissions control, and a deep sleep battery-saving feature called Doze round out the highlights, but there is far more to it than that.
Google I/O is like Christmas for Android enthusiasts. Every year, this conference showcases new and upcoming features for the world's leading mobile operating system, and this year's was no different. Shortly after announcing Android M, Google released a preview version of the upcoming firmware for Nexus devices.
On Thursday morning, May 28th, Google announced an upcoming version of Android—and within a few hours, a preview build of this so-called "Android M" release was made available to select Nexus devices.
Android's auto brightness feature was recently updated, and as of version 5.0, a new "Adaptive brightness" feature was added. This allows users to set a preferred overall brightness level, but still have the ambient light sensor adjust the backlight accordingly.
The Nexus 6 has an AMOLED screen that uses virtually no power to display black pixels. To take advantage of this feature, Google included an Ambient Display notification system that shows a black and white version of your lock screen when you get a new message. As a result, the Nexus 6 doesn't use an LED light to notify you of new incoming messages like most phones.
Carriers really suck, don't they? We constantly have to monitor our data usage, even though many of us are on "unlimited" plans, which, in reality, will just be throttled to a slower 2G or 3G connection when we hit a certain download threshold.
Desktop users have taken advantage of dual-booting operating systems for decades now. If your core system software is lacking in any regard, dual-booting a secondary OS can give you access to those features that you're missing out on.
CyanogenMod continues to be the most popular custom ROM for a good reason. Their team of developers always stay on top of the latest trends, and ensure that their software is packed with nice tweaks and awesome features. One such feature is an audio equalizer that allows you to fine-tune your device's various sound outputs. It's got a great interface, and works with any app that calls on Android's default audio mixer.
When it comes to theming your Android device, it's the little things that matter most. Whether you're tweaking your navigation buttons or changing the color of system menus, no theme is complete until even the smallest element matches the rest of your color palette.
Chrome's Incognito Mode is a great feature for folks that don't want their browsing history tracked. When it's enabled, Incognito Mode makes sure that all cookies and cache that are saved while you're browsing are deleted as soon as you leave a webpage.
Deep down at the core of Android lies the system kernel, which serves as a bridge between software and hardware. Custom kernels can be installed in place of the stock offering, and these are generally optimized for better performance or increased battery efficiency.
When you see a color depicted on your computer, smartphone, or tablet, odds are it was processed as a hex triplet before it was rendered. Most modern websites and operating systems use a hexadecimal coding system to signify certain colors, and these are represented as 6 letters and numbers.
As is the case with most software updates, Android 5.0 brought changes that were viewed by users as somewhat positive and somewhat negative. This generally happens because we're accustomed to the old way of doing things, and changes, no matter how useful, can slow us down.
Android's lock screen has evolved quite a bit over the years. From the Donut days of two tabs that launched the phone app and unlocked the device, to KitKat's clean and simple approach, shortcuts have come and gone.
Emojis, smilies, emoticons—whatever you prefer to call them, these fun little guys can bring a text-based conversation to life. If you're worried that someone's sarcasm meter might be broken, just toss in a wink at the end of your message. Or perhaps you can't quite put your sentiment into words, but one of these little graphics suits the moment perfectly.
The Overview screen (aka Recent Apps) on Android got a huge upgrade when 5.0 Lollipop was released. Chrome tabs now hold separate entries in this multitasking list, which also got a nice new Material Design theme. One of the biggest changes, though, was a new API that allows apps to color the header on their entries in this list.
Deep down, Android is a fork of Linux, which is a desktop operating system that started out as entirely command prompt-based. For that reason, many system-level tasks can still be executed within a terminal emulator app.
If you're an Android fan, you probably made your choice in mobile operating systems based on the insane level of customization options that Google's software offers. Don't like your home screen app? Simply replace it. Not a fan of a particular app's sharing system? No big deal, just share through a third-party app.
A new API in Android Lollipop allows apps to color the status bar to match their overall theme. Google billed this as a more immersive user experience that allows app developers to extend their color branding even further. It certainly seems like a win-win on the surface, but unfortunately, not many apps are using this feature yet.
The biggest complaint I hear about Android Lollipop is the fact that the new Priority Mode notification system has effectively killed off "Silent Mode." Sure, you can still put your phone on vibrate, but that's not truly silent. Selecting "None" as your notification mode isn't a perfect solution either, since no notification icons will be shown in your status bar and your alarm will not go off in the morning.
Lollipop brought a complete visual overhaul to Android, and while the vast majority of changes have been met with praise, some UI tweaks missed their mark.
If you're a fan of double-tap to wake gestures, you're going to love the newest app from ElementalX developer Aaron Segaert. On supported kernels, it allows you to associate custom apps and activities with each of the wake gestures you've set up, which will immediately be launched even with the screen off.
Android Lollipop has an awesome feature called "Battery saver" mode that reduces power consumption through various tweaks in order to squeeze in an extra hour or two of standby time when your battery is running low. It does this by disabling background processes as well as location services and transition animations, so the phone is essentially running at half-throttle.
With Android 5.0, Google introduced a new "Heads Up" notification system for incoming calls and messages. While the new incoming call interface seems to be a rousing success, the rest of the Heads Up system has been met with much less enthusiasm from users.
Most custom ROMs are built from the freely-available source code of AOSP, so they share a lot of common ground with stock Android. The difference, though, is the fact that Google adds many minor tweaks and finishing touches to AOSP while creating the version of Android that ultimately comes pre-installed on Nexus devices.
While shortcuts to your Camera and third-party apps like Snapchat are great for capturing fleeting moments, it still takes a few seconds to open them and snap a photo. That means you could potentially miss a great shot if you're not quick enough. But now there's a super-fast way to capture and send photos without having to waste time unlocking your device.
With the Nexus 6, you get a very clean software experience with minimal bloat. While this is generally the main selling point for most Nexus fans, it can be a bit of a detraction for some.
The Nexus 6 came with a hidden kernel module that allowed for double-tap-to-wake functionality, essentially letting you turn your screen on just by tapping it. A simple root app allowed us to activate this feature, which meant we were always two quick taps away from waking our device.
Android automatically clears entries in your call log after 30 days. While this might be fine in most cases, sometimes you need to find a number that called you more than a month ago. Or perhaps you want to keep detailed records for business purposes, and 30 days just isn't long enough.
The AMOLED display on the Nexus 6 wastes no power to show black pixels. This is because pixels on such a screen emit their own light, and black can be easily achieved by simply not lighting any given pixel.