Android Stuff: Leaked screenshot of Android N show new notifications shade and quick settings panel


The notifications shade is no stranger to change, and it seems to undergo tweaks and modifications with just about every major update to Android. In a leaked image discovered by Android Police, we get our first glimpse at what changes it can expect when Android N rolls around.

As you can see, the notifications shade looks like it’ll provide quite a bit more info per notifications, and the height of each notification has been stretched to accommodate this. In Lollipop, notifications on the shade have a card-like feel with gaps of negative space between each one. N looks like it’s filling up these gaps. While both have a very sleek, Material Design look, N opts for a lengthy sheet of contiguous paper over the card layout. We assume they will still be swipe-able.

Andy-Android-2See also: (Update: no app drawer) Android N features: everything confirmed, rumored and expected155

Moreover, the quick settings panel seems to be one tap quicker than it is on Lollipop. What appear to be quick toggle buttons ride atop the shade so that major tools and services, like wifi connectivity and your flashlight, can be accessed immediately rather than in a larger pull-down menu. It seems that the full quick options menu is available if you pull down once more, but this is a way to provide valuable utility to a part of the screen that wasn’t used this efficiently before.

Granted, this is a very early shot of Android N, and we wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this tossed out, revamped, or overhauled completely by the time the Android version officially starts hitting devices. Nevertheless, it’s a tasty peek into what Google is currently cooking up with the operating system’s ongoing evolution.

What do you think of N’s new notifications shade and quick settings panel? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Android Logo Mascot Lollipop Nexus Event-3See also: Android N settings will add hamburger menu for easier navigation between sub-menus38


Android Stuff: Google self driving car hits a bus, Google bears the responsibility

Google self driving cars

Google’s self driving car initiative is one of the most ambitious and controversial projects currently under the scrutiny of the public eye. Although the search giant has had six years of experience under their belt with only 17 minor accidents occurring across over two million miles of test driving, this month marks the first time that a self-driving vehicle bore any culpability in a traffic incident.

On Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2016, a self-driving Lexus RX450h attempted to navigate around some sandbags placed in a wide lane. A bus traveling at 15 mph approached the Google car from behind, occupying same wide lane as the smart car. The Lexus attempted to re-enter the center of the lane while moving at a speed of 2 mph.

Vehicle prototypeSee also: Google partners with car manufacturers to create self driving cars3

Google reported in a statement last week that the smart car anticipated that the bus would slow down to allow the self driving car to continue, but the bus did not. When the smart car re-entered the center of the lane, it struck the side of the bus causing minor damage to the front left fender, front wheel, and a sensor. There were no injuries, and no police report was filed.

In spite of the lack of police involvement, which usually determines culpability, Google says they are at least partially responsible for the incident. Their traffic algorithms take into account the common practice of vehicles slowing down to accommodate the merging of others. It would appear that buses and similar large vehicles are less likely to slow down in these situations, and Google says they are making adjustments based on this and “thousands of variations on it in our simulator,” to make their vehicles “more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles.”

Google is taking a stance that this is all a part of the learning process, but even extremely small incidents like this can be damaging to the development of self driving cars. Although many futurists believe that this revolution is inevitable, public fear and concerns that feed on smart-car culpable accidents may seriously delay this technology becoming mainstream.

What are your thoughts regarding self driving cars? Robbing us of our autonomy, or heralding a bright new world of technology? Let us know your opinion and predictions in the comments below!

Samsung Logo Close Up AANext: Samsung plans to get into the self-driving car industry6


Android Stuff: Android celebrates device diversity with Rock, Paper, Scissors ad

What sets the Android ecosystem apart from the iOS is, among other things, the sheer diversity of devices running the operating system. It’s true that this can lead to problems, like the ever-increasing fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, and there are clearly merits to Apple’s methodology that Google is looking to adopt for their operating system. Nevertheless, the fact that different manufacturers with wildly different device designs can all run the same operating system means that users have a broad array of options to choose from if they want to pick a device that’s just right for them.

In the spirit of this individualism linking hand in hand with community, Google has been running a marketing campaign under the slogan, “Be together, not the same.” That last part is something of a jab at iPhones. The latest addition to this marketing parade is pretty cute little commercial that involves a googly-eye adorned scrap of paper attempting to find its place in a school full of scissors.

google-photos-wrestlerSee also: Cats and Wrestlers advertise Google Photos4

Although the piece of paper initially attempts to fit in with a paper niche, it soon finds a real friend in a pair of scissors. To the tune of the classic eighties power anthem “St. Elmo’s Fire,” the two go on to save a down-on-his-luck rock from a band of stony ruffians, and the piece of paper undergoes a full character arc in the span of sixty seconds. Ultimately, the group’s strength comes from their diversity, which enables them to tackle any obstacles they meet.

It’s one of those metaphors that doesn’t really hold up well if you push on it too hard, but it’s adorable and uplifting nevertheless and definitely worth a watch. After viewing, let us know what you think of Android’s newest advertising boost in the comments below!

nexus 6p vs samsung galaxy note 5 aa (26 of 26)See also: Best Android phones (February 2016)442


Android Stuff: Best unlocked Android phones (February 2016)

Now that an increasing amount of smartphone manufacturers are selling their phones at cheaper price points, it’s much easier for consumers to afford an off-contract device rather than purchasing one with a two-year contract. At least in the United States, the way smartphones are priced has changed dramatically, and that’s a good thing.

So, what are the best smartphones out there for those who’d like to forgo the standard contract and buy unlocked? We’re here to take you through the best unlocked Android smartphones for under $250, under $500 and over $500. As always, if you have anything you’d like to suggest, be sure to speak up in the comment section at the bottom of the post.

Editor’s note: We’ll be updating this list regularly as new devices launch. It’s also worth noting that this article is written for a U.S.-centric point of view, though (since they are unlocked) pretty much all of these devices are available outside of the U.S., at least in some capacity. 

Update, February 2016: This month we removed the ASUS ZenFone 2 from our list.

Best phones under $250

OnePlus X

The OnePlus X is one of the best budget devices you can purchase right now. It’s compact, extremely fast, and boasts many of the same software features that come with its older brother, the OnePlus 2. It has an impressive 5.0-inch AMOLED display, a perfectly capable Snapdragon 801 processor, 3 gigabytes of RAM, microSD card expansion up to 128GB and two SIM card slots.

There are a few things to watch out for, though. If you want to activate the device on AT&T or T-Mobile’s networks, you may not have great 4G LTE coverage, as the device is missing the appropriate bands. It also comes with no NFC on board, so you won’t be able to use mobile payment methods like Android Pay. Oh, and OnePlus has just axed the invite system for the OnePlus X, so you can now buy it from the company whenever you’d like, without waiting in line for an invite!

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly smartphone and don’t mind spending a few extra bucks, get the OnePlus X. You can purchase it from OnePlus’ website for $249.99.


  • 5.0-inch AMOLED display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 441ppi
  • 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 16GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 13MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2525mAh battery
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • 140 x 69 x 6.9mm, 138g

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Buy now from OnePlus

Motorola Moto G (2015)

The Moto G, one of the most beloved budget phones on the market, is now in its third iteration. This time around, the handset offers up a 1.4GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor and either 8GB storage and 1GB RAM, or 16GB storage and 2GB RAM. bother models include microSD support, a 13MP rear cam, a 5MP front cam, a 5-inch 720p LCD display, and a hefty 2470mAh non-removable battery. While the Moto G has never been about flashy extras, this year’s model does introduce waterproofing and LTE to the mix.

For those that lust for customization, the Moto G also includes limited Moto Maker support. While this feature isn’t as robust as you’d find with the Moto X Style (Pure Edition), it’s still a great step in the right direction. As for software? The phone runs Lollipop out of the box, and it is likely only a matter of time before a Marshmallow upgrade makes its way into the hands of consumers.

It should be noted that only the model with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of on-board storage reaches the under-$200 price point. To get the higher end variant, you’ll need to pay around $219 in most regions.


  • 5.0-inch LCD display with 720 x 1280 resolution, 294ppi
  • 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor
  • 1/2GB of RAM
  • 8/16GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 32GB
  • 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2470mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 142.1 x 72.4 x 11.6mm, 155g

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Buy now from Amazon

honor 5X

Huawei has finally announced its plans to break into the US market with the honor 5X. The honor 5X was announced a number of months ago, but it was just recently revealed that the dual-SIM budget handset would be coming to the United States for only $200.

Featuring an all-metal build and a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, the 5X absolutely comes to market with a few features that we don’t normally see on sub-$200 smartphones. It comes with a big 5.5-inch Full HD display, snapdragon 616 processor, 16GB of storage and microSD expansion up to 128GB. It also comes with a 13MP rear camera, a pretty sizable 3000mAh battery, and runs Huawei’s EMUI atop Android 5.1 Lollipop out of the box. Huawei says the device will receive its update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow sometime soon, as well.

You can pre-order the honor 5X from Amazon in Dark Grey, Daybreak Silver or Sunset Gold color options for only $199.99.


  • 5.5-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 401ppi
  • 1.5GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 13MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • 151.3 x 76.3 x 8.2mm, 158g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Best phones under $500

Nexus 6P

As the successor to last year’s Motorola Nexus 6, Google recently unveiled the Huawei-made Nexus 6P. This device is the higher-end of the two Nexus phones announced at Google’s event, and that’s incredibly apparent when looking at the spec sheet.

It comes with a big 5.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, super fast Snapdragon 810 processor, a giant 3450mAh battery and an impressive 12MP rear-facing camera. Want to get your hands on one? The Nexus 6P is pretty cheap, considering the specs and build quality. You can purchase it from the Google Store starting at just $499!

We’ve just published our full review of this handset, and come to the conclusion that it’s up there with the best of the best. If you aren’t a fan of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 for any reason, you should get the Nexus 6P.


  • 5.7-inch AMOLED display with 1440 x 2560 resolution, 518ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32/64/128GB of on-board storage, no microSD card slot
  • 12MP rear-facing camera, 8MP front-facing camera
  • Non-removable 3450mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3mm, 178g

Read more

Buy now from the Google Store
Buy now from Amazon

Motorola Moto X Style (aka Pure Edition)

With the original Moto X, Motorola proved you don’t need to have the latest specs to get a great user experience. With the second generation, the Lenovo-owned company took no chances and double-downed on the spec side as well, packing the new Moto X (2014) with a dense 5.2-inch AMOLED screen, a beefy processor, and a capable 13MP camera. But with the Moto X Style, Motorola reaches the perfect balance between performance, simplicity, price and… well, style.

By Style we are mostly referring customization capabilities, a factor which has been an integral part of the Moto X experience since day one. Customers can use Moto Maker to manipulate their devices’ aesthetics to their will. You can change the color of the metal areas, engrave the back and even choose from a plethora of back options, including materials leather, wood, rubber and other materials.

The device is not a bad contender in terms of hardware, either. The larger screen puts the phone up with contenders like the OnePlus 2, Nexus 6, LG G4 and the Galaxy Note series. It may not sport the “best” processor in the market, but the Snapdragon 808 is pretty close to the 810, and Motorola has proven time and again they can make a super fast phone without the greatest chipset. The best part? This phone’s price will start at only $399!

It’s worth noting that the phone will be sold in most markets under the Style branding, though in the United States it will be sold as the Moto X Pure Edition, an unlocked model that will play nice with all U.S. carriers.


  • 5.7-inch IPS LCD display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 520ppi
  • 1.8GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 16/32/64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 21MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06mm, 179g

Read more

Buy now from Motorola
Buy now from Amazon


With every phone on this list bringing something different to the table, LG attempts to offer the most with their latest flagship. While maintaining the design language and the unique elements of its predecessors, LG’s attempt to standout on the design front involved adding a subtle curve to the display, and the availability of different back cover options in a hard plastic or leather variants.

Speaking of back covers, the LG G4 is one of the very few flagships to come with a removable back cover, which makes possible an even rarer feature: a replaceable battery. A gorgeous Quad HD display, a great camera experience, and a smooth and fluid software iteration make for a fantastic device. If what is missing in other flagships kept you from buying them, the G4 just might be the phone that you’re looking for.

It should be noted that while LG recently released the V10 (found below), we found that the G4 still offers up some great features for the price.


  • 5.5-inch LCD Quantum Dot display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution, 534ppi
  • 1.82 GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 128GB
  • 16MP rear camera, 8MP front camera
  • Removable 3,000mAh  battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 148.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 – 9.8 mm, 155 grams

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Buy now from Amazon

Nexus 5X

Google chose to release two Nexus smartphones in 2015 – the higher-end Nexus 6P made by Huawei and the LG-made Nexus 5X, which is the true sequel to LG’s beloved Nexus 5 from 2013. Both of these devices feature similar specifications, but they still manage to stand out drastically from one another. The Nexus 5X has one of the best processors on the market (the Snapdragon 808), a decent 2700mAh battery and a really great 12.3 megapixel rear-facing camera. It also boasts a fingerprint scanner on the back Google is calling Nexus Imprint, a front-facing speaker that provides decent audio quality and of course, this phone runs the latest version of Android.

In our full review, we had just a few gripes. While the Snapdragon 808 processor is very capable of performing just about everything you throw at it, the fact that the 5X comes with just 2GB of RAM makes us nervous for the future. It also only comes with 16 or 32GB of on-board storage with no microSD card expansion, so folks who are used to 32 or 64GB variants will need to rely on cloud storage when it comes to keeping media on the phone.

Considering that the Nexus 6P costed only $120 more than the 5X at launch, it was a tad difficult to recommend this smartphone at the start. Now that it’s dropped in price, though, we really think this is one of the better phones you can buy at this price range. You can now purchase the Nexus 5X starting at only $329.


  • 5.2-inch IPS LCD display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, 423ppi
  • 1.8GHz hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16/32GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
  • 12.3MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2700mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 147 x 72.6 x 7.9mm, 136g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon
Buy now from the Google Store

Best phones above $500

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

It’s hard denying that Samsung has always been the king of large-screened smartphones, and that still holds true today. With its crystal clear 5.7-inch display, powerful Exynos 7420 CPU and killer 16MP rear-facing camera, the Galaxy Note 5 is one of the best Android phones available on the market right now.

It’s an all-around solid device, boasting an all-glass chassis that’s similar to that of the Galaxy S6. It comes with an improved S Pen and some great multitasking features that will make it easy to get work done. The software is much more clean and simple than we’ve seen from the company in the past, too.

With all of that said, though, this device doesn’t come without its caveats. Samsung’s decision to omit the microSD card slot and removable battery has been a controversial one over the past few weeks, especially among Samsung die-hards. Even with these notable omissions, the Note 5 can still be considered one of the best out there.

If you’re looking for a big smartphone and money is no object, you should definitely consider picking up the Galaxy Note 5.


  • 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with 1440 x 2560 resolution, 518ppi
  • Samsung Exynos 7420 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of on-board storage, no microSD card expansion
  • 16MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6mm, 171g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

Samsung Galaxy S6

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is one of the best smartphones on the market. It features the powerful Exynos 7420 processor, an impressive 16MP rear-facing camera and a crystal clear 5.1-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display.

Although Samsung decided to forgo the removable battery and microSD card slot this time around, we’d wager to say that the much-improved build quality with the S6 is a pretty decent trade off. Basically, if you can get past these two caveats and don’t mind Samsung’s Touchwiz software overlay, the Galaxy S6 is one of the best phones you can buy.

The Samsung Galaxy S6 was definitely one of the best smartphones in 2015, though it can be a little pricey depending on which model you choose.


  • 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 577ppi
  • Samsung Exynos 7420 processor
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 32/64/128GB storage options, no microSD card expansion
  • 16MP rear camera, 5MP front camera
  • Non-removable 2550mAh battery
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 143.4 x 70.5 x 6.8mm, 138g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

LG V10

If you aren’t completely satisfied with the LG G4, perhaps the V10 will suit your needs. It has the same powerful Snapdragon 808 processor and 16MP rear-facing camera as the G4, but with a few extra features included. Most notably, the V10 sports a secondary “ticker” display LG calls the Second Screen. This extra display aims to provide its users useful information without the need to turn on the main screen. It will display app shortcuts, notifications, and even weather and battery percentage information. Although the placement is a bit wonky, we’re sure you’ll be pretty happy with the added benefit of having a secondary display.

The V10 also has two front-facing cameras for wide-angle selfies, a fingerprint scanner that’s actually really reliable, a MIL-STD-810G Transit Drop Compliant rating for shock absorption, and a 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC electronic processor with support for Qualcomm’s QFE2550 closed-loop antenna tuning solution. It’s also the first smartphone ever to come with a manual mode for taking video.

Both the V10 and the G4 are great smartphones. If you aren’t concerned with spending a bit more money, though, you should buy the V10.


  • Main display: 5.7-inch IPS Quantum Display with 2560 x 1440 resolution, 513ppi
    • Secondary display: 2.1-inch IPS Quantum Display with 160 x 1040 resolution, 513ppi
  • Hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 2TB
  • 16MP rear-facing camera, 5MP Dual Lens front-facing camera
  • Removable 3000mAh battery
  • Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • 159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6mm, 192g

Read more

Buy now from Amazon

There you have it – our picks of the best unlocked Android phones you can buy right now. Missed anything? Tell us in the comments!

Check out our related best lists:


Android Stuff: The Google Store now has a dedicated VR section

Google Tech C1-Glass VR Viewer 3

Google has been pushing the widespread adoption of virtual reality for a few years now, so it’s no surprise to see the company has finally created a dedicated virtual reality section in the Google Store. In this section you’ll be able to download notable VR applications, as well as purchase a handful of virtual reality viewers directly from Google. You can buy the standard Google Cardboard headset for $15, Mattel’s View-Master VR starter pack for $29.99, as well as the Goggle Tech C1-Glass VR Viewer for $15.

At the moment there’s no link to the VR section at the top of the Google Store navigation bar, though there is a giant banner on the Google Store homepage directing users to the new section. It’s probably only a matter of time until this section gets added to the top of the site.

Rumors have been floating around recently claiming that Google might soon release a rival to Samsung’s Gear VR headset, to be released later this year. The company also may be working on a standalone headset that won’t require a smartphone or a computer to use. It’s possible we might get our first glance at Google’s new VR products at Google I/O this year, but nothing is for certain quite yet.

Google CardboardNext: Google creates new virtual reality division4


Android Stuff: Marshmallow coming to the DROID Turbo 2 tomorrow


Earlier this month, Verizon proudly posted in its support pages that the DROID Turbo 2 was about to get the update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. However, this information was quickly yanked down, to the puzzlement of many. It seems that, although it’s true that a Marshmallow update was on its way to the device, Verizon wasn’t quite as ready to make the announcement as someone in charge of the forum pages was.

Android 6.0 marshmallow logo DSC_0126See also: Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates roundup – February 25, 2016126

Today, however, we’re finally seeing fully official motion on this update. Details of the jump to Marshmallow have reappeared on Verizon’s site, this time with a specific date: tomorrow. That’s right! Android 6.0 Marshmallow is slated to hit the DROID Turbo 2 on March 1. This update is actually a pair of updates. 23.31.24 is a kind of preliminary software update with Marshmallow following close behind in 24.14.10. This one-two punch will bring such popular features as Google Now On Tap and all the new Emoji you’ve been waiting for right to your DROID Turbo 2.

If you want to obsessively check and see if the update is available for your device, head on over to Settings > Software updates and see if it’s available yet. If not, simply waiting around with your device in your pocket will eventually provide you with an update notification.

What do you think of Marshmallow’s arrival on the DROID Turbo 2? This version of Android has suffered a notoriously slow rollout, but many users are rejoicing to finally see it on their device. Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

Android 6 Marshmallow raining cropSee also: Android Marshmallow problems: troubleshooting guide27


Android Stuff: T-Mobile already begins shipping Galaxy S7 and S7 edge pre-orders

samsung galaxy s7 first look aa-9

The new Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are two of the best smartphones to come out in recent months, so it’s no wonder why folks are chomping at the bit to get their orders in. Pre-orders for both of these devices just began a few days ago, with the official launch not taking place until Friday, March 11th. That may be true if you pre-ordered a device from Verizon, Sprint or AT&T, but not T-Mobile. According to a few users on Reddit, T-Mobile has already begun shipping out Galaxy S7 and S7 edge pre-orders. The users who have spoken up on Reddit claim that their devices should arrive by the end of the week, which is just about a whole week before the official launch date. Not bad!

It’s not entirely clear as to whether or not Samsung has given the Un-carrier the OK to begin shipping these devices to users. Either way, it looks like T-Mobile customers will be getting their devices early, which definitely isn’t a bad thing.

Did you pre-order either the Samsung Galaxy S7 or Galaxy S7 edge? If so, let us know if you’ve received your shipping confirmation from any of the major carriers.

galaxy-s7-color-comparisonNext: US carriers start taking Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge pre-orders4


Android Stuff: (Update: no app drawer) Android N features: everything confirmed, rumored and expected


Update: We’ve just added new highly likely Android N features to the rumor section below, regarding the lack of an app drawer in Android N and the appearance of the hamburger menu in the settings menu. Although both come from official Google sources, we don’t yet have open confirmation from the Android team.

With Google I/O 2016 fast approaching, the new Android N release is not far away either. As confirmed at last year’s I/O, Google will now release major new Android updates yearly, following the path established with Lollipop. So for this year, we know we’ll see the Android N developer preview at I/O, followed by monthly(ish) updates until the full Android 7.0 release in October. Here are all the confirmed, rumored and expected Android N features.

Confirmed Android N features

Android N release date

As mentioned above, we already know that the Android N release date will be May 18, during Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O 2016. The Android N developer preview will be shown off during Sundar Pichai’s keynote lecture on day one of the conference and the factory images will be made available later in the day.

The Android N release date will be May 18, after the Google I/O 2016 keynote.

The final Android 7.0 release date will coincide with the launch of the next-gen Nexus releases at the end of October or early November. This Android 7 release will be limited to Nexus devices at first and make its way to all other manufacturer devices and carriers networks over the next six months or so.

Multi-window mode

The first Android N feature to be confirmed was multi-window mode, with the confirmation coming, obscurely enough, via a Reddit AMA with the Pixel C team. During the discussion, Andrew Bowers confirmed that “split screen is in the works”. Of course, you can already get a version of stock multi-window mode in Android Marshmallow, but it’s far from polished.


Better tablet support

During the same Reddit AMA, Pixel C team member Glen Murphy came right out and confessed: “we’re working hard on a range of enhancements for this form factor.” While he didn’t go any further, these Android N tablet features could include: more functional multi-tasking (and I’m not just talking about multi-window here), a real push for tablet-optimized apps (rather than just blown-up phone apps), customizable nav buttons, DPI switcher, stock floating mini-apps and tablet-specific System UI Tuner features.

Moving to OpenJDK from Java APIs

Following a sticky situation with Oracle over “rewritten” Java APIs , Google will officially be making the switch to OpenJDK in Android N. It’s still Oracle code, but OpenJDK is, as the name, suggests, part of the open-source Java Development Kit. As Google confirmed: “we plan to move Android’s Java language libraries to an OpenJDK-based approach, creating a common code base for developers to build apps and services.” The change should make development for Android N that much simpler and external changes will be negligible.

Android M Easter Egg-8

Rumored Android N features

No Android N app drawer

We got the scoop prior to MWC 2016 that Android N will ditch the app drawer, one of Android’s most iconic features. Then, during the show, the evidence started piling up, with the LG G5 and HTC One X9 arriving without an app drawer and the Galaxy S7 having an option to remove it. While the new Xperia X range does have an app drawer, Sony’s Marshmallow concept provides a “classic” and “modern” view – with and without the app drawer.

While Google wouldn’t confirm the story at the time, an official video for Google Maps has as much as confirmed the absence of the app drawer in Android N, by showing a Nexus 6P with no app drawer shortcut on the home screen.

Android N hamburger menu in settings

The Android Developers site recently posted two screenshots of the new support library, which has since been confirmed as Android N, with a new hamburger menu in the Bluetooth menu. There’s plenty of debate as to what kind of added benefit the hamburger menu could bring to a settings sub-menu, when we currently have a back button that takes us straight back to the main settings menu, presumably what the hamburger menu would do in Android N. Whatever the use case, when the screenshots appear on the official Android Developers site you know they’re legit.


Android N name

The Android N name is the biggest game of the year, even more so than “who will make the 2016 Nexus?” You don’t need to have a sophisticated knowledge of the Android ecosystem or market to have a horse in this race, simply pick your favorite dessert that starts with an “n” and place your bets. The firm favorite currently is Android 7.0 Nutella, with Nougat coming a close second and a variety of indian desserts also being bandied about. Sundar Pichai even said he’d ask his mother or let fans vote for the official Android N name.

Sundar Pichai said he’d ask his mother or let fans vote for the official Android N name.

Stock stylus support

As we recently reported, Samsung may have hinted at stock stylus support in Android N by planning to retire several of the main S Pen features from its Look API. The Samsung developers page makes the notation that these features “will be deprecated in Android N” – a term used to describe a soon-to-be-obsolete feature. The natural assumption is that these stylus features will appear in stock Android 7.0. The same thing happened with battery saving in Lollipop and fingerprint support in Marshmallow.

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ChromeOS integration

This one is a peculiar one. Last year The Wall Street Journal “confirmed” that Android and Chrome OS would be merged, only to have Google set the record straight soon after. While the initial report claimed that Chrome OS would be killed off, Google responded by saying it was fully committed to Chrome OS and the platform was “here to stay” but that it is looking at “ways to bring together the best of both operating systems.” It’s highly likely that we’ll see at least some implementation of Chrome OS and Android compatibility in Android N.

New messaging app

There’s a rumor doing the rounds that Google will be introducing an all-new messaging app with Android N to replace the largely unpopular Hangouts SMS/MMs integration. The new app will be based on the Rich Communications Services (RCS) platform, which allows for much more than just talk and text to be shuttled around, including video chat, file sharing and instant messaging. Google has publicly admitted its commitment to the RSC standard, but there’s no telling yet if it’s anywhere near ready for inclusion in Android N.

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Expected Android N features

Return of the Dark Theme

The Dark Theme that appeared temporarily in the Android M preview builds vanished again to widespread dismay and still hasn’t made it back into an official Android Marshmallow update. Considering it’s such a popular feature request and AMOLED displays look set to take over the display market, we can only assume it will sneak back in as an Android N feature much like stock multi-window mode. Stock theme support would also be nice, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves too much.

Improved Smart Lock for Passwords

Android Marshmallow introduced Smart Lock for Passwords, a basic Google password manager that can store your app passwords so that any time you re-install an app you will be automatically logged in. Combined with Android’s revitalised app backup, the idea is that the whole process of setting up a new device is seamless. The only problem is that not that many apps support Smart Lock for passwords yet so its value is still largely underutilized. With any luck, Android N will see a lot more apps supporting the feature.

Google Smart Lock passwords aa

MOAR battery optimization

Battery optimization is and always will be one of the most important aspects of any Android release. Lollipop introduced a stock Battery Saver Mode and Marshmallow introduced Doze Mode and App Standby. Android N will likely refine these features – and hopefully allow Doze to work even when it’s in your pocket, much like Greenify’s new hibernation features do – and tweak Battery Saver in ways that make the default state of your phone a power-conservation mode.

Head of Android Sundar Pichai will take stage during the keynoteSee also: Google I/O 2016: our early predictions for Google’s big event7

Enhanced security and app stability

With the appearance of granular app permissions in Marshmallow, Google took a major step in the right direction: allowing users to choose the app permissions they were comfortable with on an app-by-app basis and reject those they felt were unreasonable. Because it was such early days, some apps that weren’t updated to allow such user-facing control tended to behave erratically. By the time Android N rolls out, Google should have committed devs to updating their apps to provide the same level of stability with or without certain non-critical permissions allowed.

Did we miss anything? Let us know what Android N features you’re expecting or looking forward to in the comments.

Read next: All the MWC 2016 announcements you can expect!


Android Stuff: LG Stylus 2 hands-on

The flagship G5 may have dominated the news cycles during MWC 2016, but LG brought quite a few other smartphones to showcase at the trade show as well, in an attempt to bolster their mid-range and entry-level device portfolios. One such device was the latest addition to LG’s series of mid-range stylus-toting smartphones, and we go to spend some time with it. Here’s our hands-on and first impressions with the LG Stylus 2!

lg-stylus-2See also: LG Stylus 2 announced ahead of MWC 201611

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Taking a quick look at the specifications, the LG Stylus 2 is powered by a 1.2GHz quad-core processor with 1.5GB RAM. 16GB is the only option for on-board storage that is available, but you do get expandable storage via microSD card to help alleviate any memory concerns. The device featues a 5.7-inch display with a 720p resolution, which provides pretty decent colors. A 13MP primary camera and 8MP front-facing unit is available, and keeping everything chugging along is a 3,000mAh battery.

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On the design front, the LG Stylus 2 retains the general design language of its predecessor, albeit with curves that aren’t as accentuated this time around. The design is in fact quite reminiscent of the LG G Pro series, and the unique button layout on the rear returns here. This is particularly nice to see given how that is no longer found with LG’s current flagship. The device does feel really nice in the hand with its textured back plate, and with its large overall footprint, the phone is quite substantial. However, with a 5.7-inch display, the 720p resolution is a touch disappointing.

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Of course, the main aspect of this device has to do with the stylus experience. While previous generations of the device haven’t really offered a whole lot when it comes to utilizing the stylus on the software side, things are different this time. A nice feature that is available, and something you may find familiar from other devices, is called Pen Pop. This is a shortcut menu that opens when the stylus is removed from its slot, and you have the option to add a few user-defined app shortcuts as well. There is also Pen Keeper, which notifies you if you are walking away from your stylus by detecting motion when the stylus isn’t in place.

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Apart from the added stylus capabilities, the LG Stylus 2 also comes with a new software package on top of Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which, like its flagship sibling, does not come with an app drawer. The general aesthetics and feature set of the software experience has been toned down significantly as well.

So there you have it for this quick look at the LG Stylus 2! This device certainly offers a lot more in terms of stylus capabilities than its predecessors, and if you’re looking for an affordable device with a stylus experience, this remains your best bet.


Android Stuff: Huawei P9 caught in the wild with dual-camera setup


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The Huawei P9 might have been a no-show at MWC 2016, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been out and about lately. Two new photos of the successor to the Huawei P8 have been caught in the wild, but rather than lock down previous leaks, they seem to contradict one another, further deepening the mystery surrounding Huawei’s 2016 flagship.

The first of the images shows a dark gray or black metallic device inside a matte plastic dummy case. The dual camera lenses are clearly visible behind a single glass panel, making the Huawei P9 likely to be the second device to hit the market with two primary cameras for wide-angle photography after the LG G5.

Huawei P9 leak Weibo

There’s a two-tone flash and what looks to be a laser auto-focus module next to the camera array. Below that is a squircular fingerprint scanner. A small bulge at the top edge of the case looks to be for the headphone port but the other image doesn’t seem to share this feature and other P9 case leaks have the headphone port located on the bottom edge.


The other image shows a silver phone – that also looks to be made of metal – inside another dummy case with a textured black pattern. There’s two curious points to note about this second image. The first is that the camera lenses now seem to have individual discs of glass covering each of them rather than a single pill-shaped piece, which lines up with previous Huawei P9 render leaks, which also put the headphone port on the top edge. The second difference is that the finger scanner has changed shape to a much more squared design than the other photo.

Huawei P9 pink angles

Of course, we could very well be looking at two different prototypes and not the final design or one might be final and the other is a prototype. Either way, with only a few weeks left until we expect the Huawei P9 launch, we won’t have much longer to wait and find out. Another leak reportedly shows the metallic frame of the Huawei P9 in a lab tech’s hands, revealing button placement and the fact that the P9 will not be a unibody design. As you can see in the image above though, the P9 will likely have a metal plate on the back with a glass strip at the top.

Huawei P9 frame leak CNBeta

The specs so far leaked include a 5.2-inch Full HD display, Kirin 955 SoC, 4 GB of RAM and 2,900 mAh battery. The cameras are reported to be 12 MP on the back and 8 MP up front, with four different Huawei P9 variants planned, including the P9, P9 Lite, P9 Max and a more “premium” P9 which is what we could be seeing here.

What do you think of the Huawei P9? Which leak do you think is most accurate?