Android Stuff: PlanetPron app for Android updated with Material Design (NSFW)

Before we go any further, please be aware that this post is about a porn app being updated, which some readers may find offensive. You have been warned.

There’s really no beating around the bush about what PlanetPron is all about; it’s an app designed to look at adult pictures and videos, plain and simple, but the app is currently undergoing a big update, so it’s certainly worth highlighting. We first talked about this app in our best adult apps roundup, praising the app for being one of the best of its kind. That was mostly down to its content, however, not design. Now PlanetPron is catching up in that department as well.

Material Design is prominent in PlanetPron and this is seen from the outset when launching the app. You’re greeted with a home screen that consists of a grid of content packed with high-resolution thumbnails of the content itself. We’ll ignore the irony present here that one is observing and appreciating the app design and layout, as opposed to the actual content. Simply tap a thumbnail on the grid to be taken to that image or video in a new window and you’ll find the usual comments, sharing, and rating icons.

PlanetPron also Features an app locking feature that works with a PIN or the Marshmallow fingerprint API to keep the app away from prying eyes. Privacy is continued as you can configure the app to time-out and also even change the app icon to further hide it on your device.

Of course the app isn’t on the Google Play Store, so you’ll need to download it directly from the app maker. That means you also need to allow the installation of apps from unknown sources in order for this to work.

Download PlanetPron


Android Stuff: On my mind: Is Samsung still keen on its Galaxy Note line?

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NOTES: You want to take them, but does Samsung still want to make them?

As the timeless adage goes, the pen is mightier than the sword. These days however, there is some discussion needed as for just how accurately such sage sayings may apply to Samsung smartphones. True, the Galaxy Note has been a mainstay for a number of years now, and true it serves as not only a tool for those interested in productivity, but also doubles as a second flagship with which its maker can attract customers and remain relevant in the latter part of each year.

People love dreaming of the next Note, people love using the Note, and people love reading about the Note. It’s great for customers with big hands, customers with bad eye sight, customers who like to draw…Everyone seems to love the Note. Except for maybe Samsung.

Despite all this, 2016 is a very curious time for Samsung’s second big product line. With each passing year, the Galaxy Note series is seemingly becoming less and less of a proper priority for its maker, perhaps even suggesting it might be on a path to pasture. In this piece, we will go over each of the major inverse “milestones” and try to surmise just what can be done to try and retake or even remake the Note.

Notes: about Europe

Perhaps the best way to start off, and indeed the most visible sign of the times, is that of Samsung’s decision not to release the Galaxy Note 5 in Europe last year. The sordid situation prompted some major social engineering efforts. While the company did eventually change its mind, kind of, it was seemingly the result of customer outrage as opposed to some kind of supply constraint issue. Still, the fact that a conscious decision was made to ignore an entire continent for a halo product is quite telling.

samsung galaxy note 5 review second batch aa (9 of 15)

Now truth be told, no one can really say what was going on behind Samsung’s decision. To assert that the Korean OEM “hates” Europe is to attribute a human consciousness to a corporation. Companies function by way of obtaining capital and revenue, therefore any decision made is done so accordingly. There could have been problems making the curved rear glass which meant lower production numbers, for example, and thus priority was given to markets with a higher Note sales history.

What is more likely, however, is that Samsung probably examined the European market situation, considered the likelihood of its Note 5 selling enough units to justify the expenses involved with releasing it there, and either (1) planned to skip it entirely, or (2) wanted to wait a see how the phone fared in other markets first.

Whatever the case may be, however, the fact is that the Galaxy Note 5 was not given equal consideration in Europe has no doubt left a sour taste in the mouth of all those who have supported the company, and the product line, in the past.

Jarring Japan

samsung galaxy note 5 review second batch aa (2 of 15)

Stepping back in time to 2014, it is also unknown as to why Samsung decided to release the Galaxy Note Edge in Japan – the first country in the world to receive it at the time – and yet did not bother to release the Galaxy Note 4 at all there. Even more odd – and parallel to Europe – the Galaxy Note 5 didn’t release at all in the Land of the Rising Sun, making 2015 the first year ever that the Note line was absent.

Sure, a case could be made regarding the company’s abysmal market share – people prefer iPhones and Xperias in Japan – and therefore a desire to reduce marketing that would likely be wasted on an unperceptive market. Whatever the case may be however, the fact remains that this was another market with many many consumers that was not privy to the Note 5.

The Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+-16

It’s so big, one almost doesn’t even need to buy a Note!

Samsung’s decision to release a big-screen Galaxy S product, and the deliberate choice to make it an Edge variant no less, represented a major rethinking of its brand strategy. Here was the company launching a direct competitor to the Note 5 that was arguably even more marked for mainstream due to its curved glass. While it’s hard to fault the OEM for wanting to make such a thing, the timing was truly a questionable decision for it diluted the impact of the Note 5.

In addition, the fact that the S6 Edge Plus cost more than the Note 5 speaks even louder: it was quite clear which of the two was to be perceived as the higher-end product.

Naturally the fact that the Edge model used curved glass which costs more to manufacture is an overhead expense that comes into play with the price, but the average mainstream consumer will not even consider this when looking at the two options. If anything the idea that the Note comes with the S-Pen might serve to imply it’s the more expensive of the two, or at least should be.

Samsung could have priced the Note 5 at the same level as the S6 Edge+ yet didn’t. Samsung could have passed on an S6 Edge+ entirely, but didn’t.

The Phone “Clone”

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Unboxing-10

Another sign that the Note series is becoming less relevant is the fact that last year’s model was a major departure from the usual “best of the best” approach that Samsung typically applied to the product line. Whereas the Galaxy S5 was plastic, for example, the Note 4 had a metal frame and souped up specs. Whereas the Galaxy S4 used a USB 2 port, the Galaxy Note 3 used USB 3.

With the Galaxy Note 5, the phone was basically just a larger Galaxy S6 with an S-Pen, nothing more, nothing less. There was no USB Type-C, as some rumors had suggested, there was no waterproofing, there was no 6GB of RAM. Perhaps it’s fitting that these rumors have returned once again this year in consideration of the Galaxy Note 6.

That said, it’s wrong to outright fault Samsung for keeping so close to the S6’s design, as the company arguably wanted a single cohesive design language, and/or wanted to try and keep costs in check by not doing anything too crazy with the Note 5.

The Note Edge is MIA


Moving on, the fact that there was no Galaxy Note 5 Edge but there was a Galaxy S6 Edge+ also suggests a rethinking of priorities. Samsung introduced the curved AMOLED panels with the Galaxy Note Edge, and along with it a new way of interacting with the phone. In fact, just recently we looked at the issue itself, in an opinion piece that argued the Note Edge’s two fused, yet independently-functioning displays was a better implementation of the Edge feature.

The Galaxy S6 Edge+ did not make use of such a dual-display scenario, nor for that matter, does the Galaxy S7 Edge. Which brings up the next point.

The Galaxy S7 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Tips and tricks-2

Perhaps the greatest indication of all that Samsung is trying to downplay the relevance of the Note series is the existence of the Galaxy S7 Edge. Unlike the smaller-sized product that launched last year, Samsung has made the S7 Edge a full-on phablet. Could this be due to complaints that the S6 Edge was too small? Perhaps. And yet, as the S6 Edge Plus had launched just half a year prior to the launch of the S7 Edge, it raises concerns about timing.

Whereas the Note series was the sole premium phablet offering provided, there is now a second mainstream Galaxy S phone to deal with. It has often been argued, at times with polls to support, that the S-Pen is an often overlooked and irrelevant part of the Note experience. That is to say, many customers seemingly just want a premium phablet from Samsung, which the Note series is, but they really don’t need or care so much about the S-Pen itself.

While there will definitely be those who want the S-Pen and/or depend on it, by having now decoupled the accessory and released a standard high-end phablet, Samsung has basically cannibalized a large potential segment of its Note customer base.

A Notable second MIA: tablets

The final piece of “evidence” to support this argument is the total lack of a new Galaxy Note tablet product for over an entire year. To date, Samsung has released the original Galaxy Note 10.1 back in 2012 followed by the Galaxy Note 8.0 and Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 (in 2013), and finally the Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 in early 2014.

As nice as the phones themselves are, the whole idea of an integrated stylus seems to be a perfect combination with an even bigger product, hence the sheer productive power of the full-blown tablets. Make no mistake, this is clearly deemed a major selling point as one need look no further than Apple’s two iPad Pro devices, both of which are compatible with an expensive Pencil. Yet whereas Apple makes customers spend in excess of $100 to purchase said Pencil, Samsung has always included the S-Pen with the hardware itself and, even better, has made a special stow-away section to store it.

samsung galaxy notepro 122 first aa-98-13

The Galaxy NotePRO 12.2 was the last formal Galaxy Note tablet to release.

Where is the new Note tablet? While it’s understandable that tablets are far less of a priority now that there is mounting evidence to suggest a market in major decline, at the very least there should be a decent top-tier tablet to rival Apple’s offering. Last year’s Galaxy Tab A series actually did have an optional model with an S-Pen included, yet as it was clearly not branded as a Note and the specs themselves were so unremarkable, it’s hard to truly consider that as a formal offering.

Even the Galaxy TabPro S, which runs Windows 10 doesn’t come with an S-Pen. And while Samsung does indent to eventually release a stylus for it, the term “S-Pen” has not been used. It seems like an incredibly wasted opportunity, especially give that the nearby competition – Microsoft’s Surface – comes with a stylus.

Saving the Note

Some have argued Samsung should decouple the S-Pen from the Note series and thereby make it an optional accessory for any interested person and product. In a very real sense, if an S-Pen were to function with the Galaxy S7 Edge, it would literally be a Galaxy Note 7 Edge. The screen size is pretty much there, so why not allow the usability? It has actually done this already with the aforementioned Galaxy Tab A product line no less.

Rumors state Samsung may launch a Galaxy Note 6 Edge this summer. Assuming it doesn’t have the dual display functionality addressed earlier, what’s the point? How would the product be any different from the S7 Edge already on the market?

LG V10 Hands On-2

Perhaps Samsung needs to do something really bold and dynamic in order to “save” the Note, either from obscurity of else from itself. Perhaps it should take a look at LG, of all companies, and the V10 handset. LG’s second flagship of 2015 was a truly gigantic consideration. It had dual functioning displays, it had a sizable frame, it had top-quality mobile audio output, and it was virtually indestructible. Heck, it even looked totally different from the LG G4.

As if that were not enough, LG is clearly convinced the second screen is a good idea as it’s now seeking to include it on even non-flagship products to boot. Even the “standard affair” G5 looks totally different from its predecessor and the V10.

Just imagine what might happen if Samsung went truly crazy with the Note 6 and made it a completely different, unique product. The series could find its own niche again, something it once had back before rivals were churning out phablets right and left. It would give Note owners something special to look forward to, and it might even convince some mainstream users to get with the program, too.

Conclusion and Wrap Up

Despite the fact that Samsung’s Galaxy Note line has a dedicated group of loyal customers – or perhaps future returnees if the Note 6 brings back microSD support – it’s hard to believe the famous product line still has the same luster it once had over at Samsung’s HQ. Regrettably, it seems like the Note has become just another phablet in a sea of phablets, and even Samsung doesn’t seem to want to make it different.

The Note Edge was a major step forward, yet it has ostensibly been canned. The Note tablets are now more relevant than ever now that Apple has a Pencil, and yet they are nowhere to be seen. People need to covet the Galaxy Note series once more for more than it being just another Note and/or a flagship phablet.

What do you think? Has Samsung started to reduce the Note to a less-than-zero supporting role, or is it as prime and pertinent as ever? Does the product lack that something special it once had, or are things going swimmingly? Please feel free to take the surveys within this piece and then leave a comment or two below.


Android Stuff: Here are the videos you don’t want to miss this week – April 30, 2016

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While the last few weeks at Android Authority have been packed with tons of reviews, this last week saw this trend come to an end. While nothing was reviewed this week, that doesn’t mean the video team sat idly by.

This week our video team brought us a more in-depth look at the HTC 10’s camera, pitted the LG G5 vs the Nexus 6P, gave us an overview of the main mobile payment services, and much more. Our very own Joe Hindy also had a very busy week, not only bringing us his regular Android Apps Weekly video but also best games and best apps of April videos.

So without further delay, let’s jump in and take a look at all the great content we saw this week:

HTC 10 Camera Feature Focus

After finding mixed reception at best for the HTC One M9, the HTC 10 aims to be a much-needed step up for the company, and based on our review we agreed that hTC had certainly made a massive improvement this time around. In this feature we take a closer look at the camera, an area where HTC has traditionally been at its weakest.

LG G5 vs Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6P is considered one of the best Android devices released in 2015 and remains just as compelling of a buy even now. Meanwhile, the LG G5 attempts to challenge the norm with its unique modular design. How do the two compare? We take a closer look at this question in our LG G5 vs Nexus 6P comparison.

Android Pay vs Apple Pay vs Samsung Pay Overview

There is no lack of mobile payment options out there in 2016, but there are three that have gained a greater level of traction than all the rest – Android Pay, Apple Pay, and Samsung Pay. In this overview we give you a better look at how they compare.

Android Apps Weekly and the best apps/games of April

Google Play Awards, Counter Strike, Harvest Moon is out! – Android Apps Weekly

Google Play Awards, Counter Strike on Android, Harvest Moon, and more — you don’t want to miss the latest episode of Joe’s Android Apps Weekly show.

10 best new Android games of April 2016

Kingdom Hearts Unchained X, LEGO Jurassic World – there were plenty of great games released in April. We take a look at 10 of the best.

10 best new Android apps of April 2016

An official Giphy app, an official Reddit app – it’s been a good month for apps. We take a look at 10 of the best newcomers.

Android Authority Weekly episodes

Looking for a recap on some of the best news of the week? Check out Jayce’s Android Authority Weekly episodes below, as well as links to all related coverage.

HTC One S9 is Official – Google’s Dream Team – Facebook Messenger Group Calls


Lenovo and Xiaomi Drop Out of the Top 5 Selling OEMs



Android Stuff: Google has discontinued the $999 Chromebook Pixel ($1299 model still available)

Google-IO-2013 Pixel chromebook 1600 aa

Google’s Chrome OS has managed to make in-roads into various sectors, including education. Part of this has to do with the cloud-based platform’s relatively simple usability and all-inclusive functionality. The real key however, is the low price at which the hardware – Chromebooks – cost. Whereas a decent Windows-based laptop can retail for hundreds and hundreds of dollars, Chrome OS packing-products are typically a mere fraction of the cost. Except for Google’s own Chromebook Pixel.

Google has just made the choice easier by making it more difficult. As of today, the lowest priced Pixel, the $999 variant, has been discontinued.

The Chromebook Pixel starts at a “mere” thousand dollars and includes things such as a super high resolution display and touch-support. The original model even had optional LTE connectivity. While this product line will only appeal to a limited segment of an already limited – though growing – market, Google has just made the choice easier by making it more difficult. As of today, the lowest priced Pixel, the $999 variant, has been discontinued.

Here’s how Liliputing’s Brad Linder put it:

[The $999] model is out of stock… and a Google representative tells me the company has no plans of re-stocking the $999 Chromebook Pixel with a Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.

You can still buy a $1299 model with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM and 64GB of storage though.

It’s unclear as to just why Google decided to discontinue the most affordable Pixel. There is likely a number of different factors, some of which may have been:

  1. Customers might not have responded as well to it as they did the more expensive option.
  2. Marketing data may have suggested it was overpriced when compared with competing products.
  3. Component supply issues may have made it impossible to continue offering the product without raising the price.
  4. Google might have sold through its remaining stock and plans to release a new model shortly.
  5. Google worked with HP on the Chromebook 13 which is a premium – but cheaper – product that is fiscally more realistic for most customers.

The truth might be one of these factors, or a combination of some – or all – of them. It might even be something not considered at all. Still, the fact that there is now less choice for consumers, especially those who want a premium product like the Pixel, is never a good thing.

It remains to be seen as to if a new Chromebook Pixel will be released this year, but at least there is always the Pixel C.

What do you think? Does this decision baffle the mind or is it probably the product of progressive planning? Leave a comment below!



Android Stuff: A history of HTC’s Android designs

Now that the dust has settled, veteran smartphone maker HTC can breathe a bit easier knowing that its latest flagship, the HTC 10, has been officially announced and is about to take its impending charge into the hands of consumers worldwide. For the company – which has been on shaky ground for some time due to stiff competition – it’s a new direction that’ll hopefully bring them back to good fortunes, to the days when they were largely regarded as the premier force in the Android space.

One of the more delightful aspects of the HTC 10 is its updated design, which again is a testament to the company’s meticulous approach when it comes to design. They’ve always been highly esteemed in the industry, producing slick looking devices that have been seared into the hearts and minds of smartphone fans all throughout the world. However, the more we think about the HTC 10’s new look, the more it’s made us think about all the memorable Android smartphones HTC has produced throughout the years – how some of them have reshaped things, and others have had us scratching our heads.

With that mind, let’s take a quick look at the history of HTC’s designs!

History of HTC's Android designs

2008: The birth of Android; a humble beginning

If you don’t know it by now, you should: HTC has been there since the beginning, literally! Being an original member of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA), HTC collaborated with Google on its Linux-based operating system for mobile phones, to deliver the first commercially available Android-powered smartphone in the HTC Dream – also known by many as the T-Mobile G1 – the granddaddy of them all.

HTC’s past devices:

Aesthetically, the QWERTY landscape form factor of the handset might not be in huge circulation nowadays, but it was something seen as a more logical solution for smartphones back them. You can say it looked “cute” with its “chin” sticking out, which went on to became a notable design trait in other HTC phones later on. Another notable thing to point out with its design relates to the hinge used by the QWERTY keyboard, one that didn’t necessarily slide out, but rather, moved in an unconventional arching motion.

The phone wasn’t perfect and doesn’t scream premium by today’s standards, but at the time, its design stood out from the crop to establish Android’s identity from its competition.

2009: Back-to-back slate designs

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For its second Android smartphone released in early 2009 – the HTC Magic/T-Mobile myTouch 3G – the company simply took the design of the G1 previously, but opted to remove the keyboard – resulting in just a simple looking slate design. Again, the design isn’t grandeur by any means, keeping simple and cute just like before.

T-Mobile myTouch 3G

However, towards the end of the year, the company surprised many by coming out with the HTC Hero. While it shares the understated design language of the two previous smartphones, some would consider the Hero to be the device that placed HTC on that path to premium with its one-of-a-kind looks. Its unique design not only pertained to the “chin” it was rocking, but rather, the material that comprised its body. With a Teflon coating, the HTC Hero managed to stay clean looking – while also providing a manageable amount of grip.

And crazy to believe it, but the Hero was HTC’s first Android smartphone to feature a built-in 3.5mm headset jack!

HTC Hero

HTC Hero

Early 2010: Legendary rise

2010 proved to be a banner year for the Taiwanese company, as the rush of Android smartphones from them were relentless. First and foremost, HTC brought us the very first Nexus-branded smartphone – the Google Nexus One. This phone was an evolutionary leap for the company in terms of design. Having experimented with Teflon with the Hero previously, HTC stepped up its game with the cleaner, more refined looking Nexus One. You could say that it popularized the notion of “unibody” designs, casings fashioned from one piece of material – in this case, a Teflon coated case to resist dirt and debris.


Not long after the release of the Nexus One, HTC came swinging with a variant in the form of the HTC Desire. It remained faithful to its sibling’s design, but swapped out the trackball in favor of a trackpad – while also fusing a metal frame with a mostly plastic rear casing.

Acclaimed by many to be HTC’s finest effort up to this time, the HTC Legend astounded many with its incredible level of detail and quality craftsmanship. In actuality, the HTC Legend is the true successor to the HTC Hero. Opting to go with a body fashioned from one piece of aluminum, HTC’s legendary expertise in design was at its fullest with the Legend. It’s hard to imagine where HTC is currently without paying homage to the HTC Legend.

Mid to late 2010: Becoming more desirable

For the rest of 2010, however, we didn’t see another handset with the same level of prestige that accompanied its early 2010 smartphones. There wasn’t a shortage or anything like that, but the phones released between mid to late 2010 didn’t have the same level of high-quality design. In fact, this was when we began to see the company recycling its designs, some of which even spawned subtle variants.


HTC Droid Incredible

The HTC EVO 4G is a memorable phone, but in HTC’s design history, it doesn’t really rise to the top of the ladder. Yes, it should be pointed out that it was one of the few phones in existence to be released with a built-in kickstand, but nothing else really jumped out with its design. Other smartphones, like the Droid Incredible, Wildfire, Aria, Desire HD, and Inspire, all seemingly weren’t as provocative because you could argue that they all had recycled designs – variations of the original HTC Desire.

Despite the underwhelming options, HTC managed to at least end the year with some stunning designs. Both the T-Mobile G2 and myTouch 4G were serious upgrades to their respective predecessors. The G2, in particular, was a far more premium looking and constructed smartphone with an even better keyboard. Conversely, the myTouch 4G also received the same treatment as well. Both handset boasted elements that came from the Nexus One and Desire, so HTC at the very least had a couple good looking smartphones to end 2010.

2011: Sensational and targeting specific demographics

By now, HTC has established itself as the premier smartphone maker that was a cut above the rest with its stunning designs. For 2011, though, we saw HTC keeping to its Desire design language, as most handsets released throughout the year kept featuring subtle changes. From the HTC Thunderbolt and Desire S to the Rezound, and EVO 3D, they all kept to the same theme. Don’t get us wrong, some of them still offered a metal chassis, but there wasn’t anything majorly new and different with them.


Then a sensation suddenly came along to spice things up! In mid-2011, the HTC Sensation was released to prove again that the company was capable of producing something original. While it still shared the principal design elements established by the Desire, the Sensation boasted an evolutionary design that consisted of an aluminum chassis, beveled glass display, and an eye-catching tri-colored pattern design with its rear casing.

Beyond the Sensation, HTC did manage to experiment by venturing out to other designs for differentiation beyond the Desire-esque looking phones they’ve been kicking out. The HTC ChaCha and Salsa are two examples of that, as these so-called Facebook phones appeared vastly different, as their designs really catered to the teens and tweens demographic they sought after. To HTC’s credit, they weren’t inferior constructed phones, especially the ChaCha, which took after many of the HTC Hero’s qualities.


HTC Rhyme

By the end of 2011, HTC took the approach of catering to specific audiences. If the two Facebook phones weren’t evidence enough, the blissfully designed HTC Rhyme cemented that notion, since it was designed for women. Fashioning together characteristics from the Desire and Sensation, the Rhyme was a compact sized smartphone for Verizon that’s arguably most recognizable for its color scheme: plum to be exact.

2012: The shift to polycarbonate

Since Android’s inception, HTC has built a solid reputation of taking a careful and calculating approach when it comes to designs. The evolutionary changes year-to-year have been outstanding, but things were shaken up in 2012, as the company seemingly settled on a franchise name – the One series. The brand new One series was a grand departure from what we saw previously, especially the flagship model in the HTC One X.

HTC One X Logo aa 7 1600

This phone was particularly a shakeup for them, since HTC decided to go with a curved polycarbonate body – forgoing the usual flatter looking aluminum casings of its previous high-end phones. The result was a surprising one nonetheless, because they still managed to forge an elegant phone that embodied the strict design approach the company has been known for. Metal, however, wasn’t entirely out of the loop, given that the mid-ranger in the series, the HTC One S, was blessed with a sleek looking anodized metal chassis. In certain instances, some folks regarded the HTC One S as being superior in design than the flagship One X.

After the big hoopla that surrounded the announcement of its new One series, the rest of 2012 was accompanied by a reserved tone. The Desire line continued to thrive, showing only some minor, iterative changes. In fact, you can say that the Desire line no longer left the same impression it did when it was first introduced, given that many of these new Desire phones were merely low-to-mid range devices with forgettable designs.


HTC Droid DNA (Left) vs the HTC One X+ (right)

For the backend of 2012, HTC expanded its One line with the announcement of the One SC, One ST, One X+, One VX, and One SV. All of them, were merely variants of the One series devices the company announced earlier in the year. All of this made people question whether the company was expunged of any new ideas, considering the focal shift from metal to plastic with the One X.

2013: A radical one

After a tepid 2012, the Taiwanese company started off 2013 with what’s arguably its most differentiated Android phone to date – the HTC First. Design-wise, its latest attempt at the all-inclusive Facebook phone was a stark contrast to what HTC has been doing since Android’s birth. Sporting a cleaner, more minimalist design, it doesn’t try to be as flashy or premium as its previous efforts. Some of its key design changes include its flush camera, in comparison to the rather big, protruding lens that stood out on HTC’s other devices, and a flat rear casing with a soft touch matte finish.

HTC One M7

The most radical design in HTC’s history came with the HTC One’s arrival, codenamed the M7. Many people will certainly agree that this was HTC finest looking phone, adopting a new premium design language that would be the foundation for years to come. Having been exposed to declining revenues, due to the emergence of Samsung’s rise to the top of the Android world, HTC delivered what’s arguably one of the all-time best designed phones in history: the HTC One (M7).

Using polycarbonate as the main component in its previous flagship, the HTC One went back to a more premium design language with a body made out of aluminum. This, naturally, gave the phone its premium feel, as many phones at the time still continued to be constructed out of plastic. Not only was there that sense of premium, but the way it curved provided an ergonomic fit in the hand. Furthermore, new additions like the micro holes comprising the earpiece and speaker, gave the phone a symmetrical appearance like nothing before it.

Impressively enough, the HTC One’s (M7) design can still hold up today, showing to us how designs can carry a phone very far.

Nothing else really stood out in HTC’s lineup for the rest of 2013, sad to say. Indeed, its Desire line continued to show strong support outside of the US, but none of them managed to reach the same level of success as the HTC One (M7). And that’s probably why the company decided to only release two other phones in the new One series – the HTC One mini and One Max. As their names imply, they were merely size variants of the HTC One, but we should point out that the HTC One Max was the company’s first Android powered phone to come with a fingerprint sensor.

2014: Sticking to the one design


At this time, HTC’s redesign with the One (M7) from the previous year proved to be quite a hit amongst consumers – so its eventual successor made some minor, iterative improvements. Sporting the same unmistakable metal body, one that now comprised 90% of the phone, the HTC One M8 featured edges that were more rounded, on-screen buttons (as opposed to the capacitive, dedicated ones from before), and a polished finish to accentuate its premium industrial design.

HTC One M8 in video:

While it wasn’t an overhaul, the M8 did manage to become a pleasantly designed phone worthy of being the M7’s successor. Well, you could say that the minor changes were probably overshadowed by the fact that the M8 featured a new Duo camera system. Besides that, though, the M8’s industrial design helped to keep it in good standing throughout the year.

Hard to believe, 2014 ended up being one of the slowest years for HTC when it came to product releases. Scaling back in comparison to previous years, the company announced a few variants of the M8, as well as devices in its Desire line. Most of the Desire handsets released in 2014 again didn’t offer new designs. Regardless of that, the next notable change in HTC’s design history came with the release of the HTC J Butterfly (also known as the HTC Butterfly 2 in other markets).

We can agree that the Butterfly 2 wasn’t nearly as stylish as the M8 from earlier in the year, as it swapped out the metal body for a polycarbonate one, which some view as a response to the water resistant construction of the Samsung Galaxy S5 at the time. Therefore, the HTC Butterfly 2’s design appeared lukewarm in comparison to the premium look of the M8. Even without the premium attachment, it showed us that HTC was willing and able to design a water resistant phone – choosing to compromise with a polycarbonate body to gain the feature.

2015: Flatter results

Hard times of late didn’t make 2015 an eventful year for HTC. Samsung and Apple continued their dominance in the market, and other emerging players in the space – LG, Huawei, and Motorola – managed to keep pace. As for HTC, the company scaled things back even more by announcing even fewer smartphones than ever before.

HTC One M9

Out of the bunch, the first notable one to arrive was the HTC One M9. Sadly, though, its design wasn’t as widely acclaimed as its previous efforts, due to probably how some viewed its design as a step back for them – as opposed to being a step forward. True, it shared the same design as the M8 before it, but there wasn’t anything profound enough to make it as memorable as other efforts. The changes to it were minimal at best, such as the jewelry grade dual-tone finish of the body.

Unlike previous years, the One line didn’t receive the same size mini and max treatment, but rather, the company simply made slight hardware alterations to the phone – resulting in the One E9+ and One M9+. At the same time, the Desire line was still alive and well, choosing to favor designs that were more fun and colorful to target millennials that don’t want to spend a huge fortune on a phone. These millennial-centric phone included things like the HTC Desire 520, 526, and 626.

It wasn’t until late 2015 when we saw another major design shift, when the HTC One A9 was introduced as low-cost premium alternative. Many critics panned the One A9 for resembling the iPhone, but we can agree that it shares a lot of characteristics with its previous flagship phones. Unlike them, the One A9 boasts a smooth metal chassis that was uniformly flat for the most part, but not as aggressive in its styling.

Considering the low-cost starting price of the phone, in comparison to the usual $600+ price attached to most flagships, the HTC One A9 was the poster child of premium design without the premium cost (at least in the US; for those outside the US, the One A9 was exceptionally overpriced).

2016: New beginnings

The last few years haven’t been kind for HTC, a company that was poised for success when they launched the very first Android powered smartphone. We’re nearing the halfway point of 2016, and HTC went back to the drawing board with its latest flagship smartphone – the HTC 10.

The design is yet another testament to the company’s legendary reputation, producing a slick looking, original design. Drawing inspiration from the previous flagships in the series, as well as the recently launched A9, the HTC 10’s design is a refreshing one because of the distaste left by the M9 the year before.

Flaunting one of the thickest beveled edges outlining the phone, it actually helps to give the phone a unique looking silhouette that’s unmistakable. While it’s tough to say how this design compares to the other memorable ones put out by the company, it’s nonetheless a favorable one, rich with the qualities anyone can accept for a high-end, flagship smartphone.

Where next for HTC?

History of HTC's Android designs

With a pedigree that’s as old as Android itself, HTC certainly understands smartphone design but the combination of poor strategy and ever-increasing competition from Samsung and Apple, means HTC is no longer the giant it once was. The HTC 10 certainly has enough to compete against other flagships but whether it’s enough for HTC, remains to be seen.

What design will HTC adopt going forward? What does the future hold for the Taiwanese company that’s been around from the very beginning of Android? Can HTC rediscover its old magic to inspire millions of customers to buy its phones? All of this and more will be answered in the months and years to come.

Which HTC handset do you think has the best design and what do you think the future will hold for HTC? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!


Android Stuff: Android Auto: everything you need to know

Android Auto is essentially a smartphone projection system for your car, with users required to tether an Android smartphone, running Android 5.0 Lollipop or above, to the built-in infotainment system that the vehicle has available.  Android Auto has slowly been gaining traction over the last year or so, with more and more car manufacturers coming into the fold every day. Android Auto has been expanding to quite a few new markets as well.

Below is everything you need to know about Android Auto, including what it has to offer, the various markets it is, or soon will be, available in, vehicles and car manufacturers that support Android Auto, and finally, the options to add Android Auto to your existing vehicle.

Functionality and features

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Android Auto 8

As mentioned, Android Auto isn’t an independent system, but rather extends the functionality of your Android smartphone to the car’s dashboard head unit, using a car-friendly user interface. The phone, running Android 5.0 Lollipop or above, is tethered via a USB cable, and of course, the car does have to support Android Auto for this to work.

Functionality includes navigation via Google Maps, music control, voice control for replying to messages, making calls, and more. Third party app support is also available, with a slew of apps to be found already, including Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio, TuneIn Radio, Kik Messenger, Skype, Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, Stitcher Radio, PocketCasts, and a whole lot more. You can find the full list of compatible applications here.

thumb android auto review (1 of 1)See also: Android Auto Review – Hyundai Sonata 201519

Countries where Android Auto is available

android auto review aa (14 of 16)

Android Auto was initially launched in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, and the US. Earlier this month, Google rolled out support for Android Auto in 18 new countries, including Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Russia, Switzerland, Uruguay, and Venezuela, along with the US territory of Puerto Rico.

ford android auto ces 2016 (1)See also: Quick look at Android Auto in Ford cars at CES 20168

Cars Android Auto is compatible with

android auto hyundai sonata aa (6 of 9)

Audi 2016 Q7
2017 A4
2017 Q2
Buick 2016 LaCrosse
2016 Regal
2017 Envision (coming soon)
2017 Encore (coming soon)
Cadillac 2016 ATS
2016 ATS Coupe
2016 ATS-V
2016 CTS
2016 CTS-V
2016 ELR
2016 CT6
2016 Escalade
2016 Escalade ESV
2016 XTS
2017 XT5
Chevrolet 2016 Camaro
2016 Camaro Convertible
2016 Colorado
2016 Corvette
2016 Corvette Convertible
2016 Cruze
2016 Impala
2016 Malibu
2016 Silverado
2016 Silverado HD
2016 Tahoe
2016 Volt
2016 Suburban
2016 Spark
Ford 2017 C-MAX (coming soon)
2017 Edge (coming soon)
2017 Escape (coming soon)
2017 Everest (coming soon)
2017 Expedition (coming soon)
2017 Explorer (coming soon)
2017 F-150 (coming soon)
2017 Flex (coming soon)
2017 Focus (coming soon)
2017 Fusion (coming soon)
2017 Galaxy (coming soon)
2017 Kuga (coming soon)
2017 Mondeo (coming soon)
2017 Mustang (coming soon)
2017 Ranger (coming soon)
2017 S-MAX (coming soon)
2017 Super Duty (coming soon)
2017 Taurus (coming soon)
2017 Transit (coming soon)
2017 Vignale (coming soon)
GMC 2017 Acadia (coming soon)
2016 Canyon
2016 Sierra
2016 Yukon
2016 Yukon XL
Holden 2016 Spark (coming soon)
2016 Captiva
Honda 2016 Civic
2016 Accord
Hyundai 2016 Elantra
2016 Elantra GT (coming soon)
2016 Veloster (coming soon)
2016 Tucson (coming soon)
2015 Sonata
2016 Sonata Hybrid (coming soon)
2016 Sonata PHEV (coming soon)
2016 Santa Fe (Sport)
2016 Azera (coming soon)
2016 Genesis (coming soon)
Kia 2015 Optima (software update)
2016 Optima
2017 Sportage
2017 Forte (coming soon)
2014 – 2016 Soul (software update)
2017 Soul (coming soon)
2015 – 2016 Soul EV (software update)
2017 Soul EV (coming soon)
2015 – 2016 Optima Hybrid (software update)
2017 Optima Hybrid (coming soon)
2017 Plug-in Optima (coming soon)
2016 Sorento (software update)
2017 Sorento (coming soon)
2015 – 2016 Sedona (software update)
2017 Sedona (coming soon)
2017 Cadenza (coming soon)
2017 Niro Hybrid (coming soon)
2018 Rio (coming soon)
2018 K900 (coming soon)
Lincoln 2017 Continental (coming soon)
2017 MKC (coming soon)
2017 MKX (coming soon)
2017 MKZ (coming soon)
2017 MKZ HEV (coming soon)
2017 Navigator (coming soon)
Mitsubishi 2016 Pajero
2016 Pajero Sport
2017 Mirage (coming soon)
Opel 2016 Adam
2016 KARL
2016 Corsa
2016 Astra
2016 Insignia (coming soon)
Seat 2016 Alhambra
2016 Ibiza
2016 Leon
2016 Toledo
Skoda 2016 Fabia
2016 Octavia
2016 Rapid
2016 Superb
2016 Yeti
Vauxhall 2016 Adam
2016 Viva
2016 Corsa
2016 Astra
2016 Insignia (coming soon)
Volkswagen 2016 Beetle
2016 Beetle Cabrio
2016 Caddy
2016 CC
2016 Eos
2016 Fox
2016 Golf
2016 Golf Cabrio
2016 Golf Sportsvan
2016 Golf Variant
2016 Jetta
2016 Passat
2016 Passat Variant
2016 Polo
2016 Scirocco
2016 Sharan
2016 Spacefox
2016 T6 Van
2016 Tiguan
2016 Touran
Volvo XC90 (coming soon)
S90 (coming soon)
V90 (coming soon)

Aftermarket stereos Android Auto is compatible with

android auto review aa (3 of 16)

If you aren’t in the market for a new car, you also have the option to add Android Auto support to your existing vehicle via these compatible aftermarket stereos from Kenwood and Pioneer. You can find the full list of compatible models below:

Kenwood DDX9902S
Pioneer 2015 AVIC-8100NEX
2015 AVIC-7100NEX
2015 AVH-4100NEX
2015 AVIC-F77DAB
2015 AVIC-F70DAB
2015 AVH-X8700BT
2015 AVH-X8750BT
2015 AVIC-F70TV
2015 AVIC-F70BT
2015 AVH-X8790BT
2016 AVIC-8200NEX
2016 AVIC-7200NEX
2016 AVH-4200NEX
2016 AVIC-F88DAB (coming soon)
2016 AVIC-F80DAB (coming soon)
2016 AVH-X8800BT (coming soon)
2016 AVH-X8850BT (coming soon)
2016 AVIC-F80TV (coming soon)
2016 AVIC-F80BT (coming soon)
2016 AVH-X8890BT (coming soon)

Other car manufacturers part of the Open Automotive Alliance

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Android Auto 31

While there are quite a few car manufacturers with vehicles that support Android Auto, there are a lot more that are a part of the Open Automotive Alliance, and we can expect to see their cars come with Android Auto quite soon as well. These manufacturers include Abarth, Acura, Alfa Romeo, Bentley, Chrysler, Citroen, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Genesis, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Mahindra, Maserati, Mazda, Nissan, Peugeot, RAM, Renault, Ssangyong, Subaru, and Suzuki.


Android Stuff: Report: Q1 2016 worldwide tablet shipments decline 14.7% YoY



Three Apples a day still can’t seem to save the OEM’s sluggish shipment results.

While the tech community may love to discuss what phone is the best or which tablet is terrible, most of the time it’s all a matter of opinion. Thanks to companies like the International Data Corporation (IDC), however, the collective community – and indeed the world-at-large – can be privy to data that explains just what everyone is actually doing.

A few days ago, IDC published the latest entry in its Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker results, and the numbers are (1) bad in general, (2) bad for the established major players, and (3) good for some unlikely ones. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

For starters, citing both “first quarter seasonality” and “an overall disinterested customer base” IDC is reporting an “annual decline of 14.7% in worldwide tablet shipments” during Q1 2016. Worldwide shipments for all tablet variants, including slates and detachables, reached 39.6 million units.

Slate tablets comprised 87.6% of all shipments, however it was in decline and has “become synonymous with the low-end of the market.” Detachables, on the other hand, “experienced triple-digit year-over-year growth on shipments of more than 4.9 million units” which was impressively, “an all-time high in the first quarter of a calendar year.”

Samsung Galaxy Tab S Pro

Samsung’s Galaxy TabPro S is a detachable Windows 10 device.

Mention was made to Microsoft’s Surface product line which arguably started the detachable trend, and it was also pointed out that this year even Samsung got in on the action. By this, of course, the report is referring to the curiously named Galaxy TabPro S, an sAMOLED-packing Windows tablet that comes with a detachable keyboard. It is the actions of companies like Samsung that are seeking to change the marketplace, as according to Jean Philippe Bouchard, Research Director of Tablets at IDC,

The introduction of detachables from traditional smartphone vendors is only beginning and pose a real threat to traditional PC manufacturers. Their understanding of the mobile ecosystem and the volume achieved on their smartphone product lines will allow them to aggressively compete for this new computing segment. It is likely that those smartphone vendors will utilize the detachable segment to create new mobile computing end-user experiences if customers are using their detachables in combination with their smartphones.

As for individual shipment breakdown, the results may be slightly surprising:

Top Five Tablet Vendors, Shipments, Market Share, and Growth, First Quarter 2016
(Preliminary Results, Shipments in millions)
Vendor 1Q16 Unit Shipments 1Q16 Market Share 1Q15 Unit Shipments 1Q15 Market Share Year-Over-Year Growth
1. Apple 10.3 25.9% 12.6 27.2% -18.8%
2. Samsung 6.0 15.2% 8.3 18.0% -28.1%
3. 2.2 5.7% 0.0 0.1% 5421.7%
4. Lenovo 2.2 5.5% 2.5 5.4% -13.8%
5. Huawei 2.1 5.2% 1.1 2.4% 82.2%
Others 16.9 42.6% 21.8 46.9% -22.5%
Total 39.6 100.0% 46.4 100.0% -14.7%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, April 28, 2016

As indicated by the above results, both Apple and Samsung saw a significant decline on YoY growth. Of the two, Apple arguably fared less badly due to the fact that it has the benefit of the iPad Pro and the new size-factor category it fits into. Special mention is made to the price drop of the iPad Air 2 which may trigger some with older Apple tablets to finally upgrade. Apple continues to be the industry leader with respect to global shipments.

Samsung on the other hand, had no new tablets to offer save for the aforementioned Windows-running Galaxy TabPro S, which IDC mentions has not achieved stunning results due to the high price point. It also speculates Samsung will soon diversify said product line to offer more selection and price points.

On the other hand, Amazon has fared fantastically with an sensational 5421.7% increase YoY. This is no doubt a result of the company’s bargain-bin pricing strategy employed with last fall’s refresh and has helped the company earn a venerable fortune. Huawei also saw considerable growth, with mention made as to the company’s frequent collaborations with telecom carriers.

Much like Samsung and Apple, Lenovo saw a decrease in shipments YoY, suggesting its Yoga 3 series of Android tablets has not performed that well. IDC also described a somewhat incomplete range of Windows tablets that needs to be fleshed out to ensure maximum customer spending.

Wrap Up


Overall the tablet market continues to decline as market saturation seems to have hit not only Android, but Apple’s ecosystem as well. Indeed many have accused the iPad Pro – the larger one – with being a false equivalency: while its maker wants customers to believe it is a replacement for a home PC due to its size and abilities, the fact that it lacks a user-accessible file system and can not run OSX software means its functionality is explicitly limited for an entire segment of the market, something that is only worsened by the product’s high price.

It remains to be seen as to what Samsung releases this year and how it performs. Lenovo, too, needs to get on the ball less it run the risk of shedding more market share. Meanwhile, Amazon and Huawei are clearly on the right path, at least for the time being.

What do you think? Are you still ga-ga over tablets, or has the whole market just lost appeal for you?


Android Stuff: (Not so) gr8: AT&T HTC One M8 & M9 suffer Marshmallow roll-out delay

HTC One M9+-7

When Android Marshmallow was formally released last October, it brought with it numerous changes to the way Google’s mobile OS functions. Power management on standby was improved with Doze, and even the way in which Apps can access user’s personal information and device components was modified with granular permissions. These days the industry is all about Android N, the yet-to-be-named OS preview build of the next major update.

Despite this, there are still devices which are running on Android Lollipop. One such example is AT&T’s variants of the HTC One M8 and HTC One M9. While customers on the other major competing networks in the USA have already received their Marshmallow update, it now seems that Ma Bell users will need to wait even longer:

As seen above, HTC’s Vice President of Product Management, Mo Versi, has taken to Twitter to Tweet about some trouble. It seems there is some kind of technical problem going on that is preventing the roll-out of Android Marshmallow. The prognosis is perhaps a bit of a tough take for those in wait, as he indicates it may be approved “within the next couple of weeks”.

This means that, assuming everything goes according to plan, which it seemingly has not less this delay would have been posted today, it will be around two weeks before everything is clear to go. It will then require more time for the OTA to hit customer’s devices, assuming there there are no bugs or other problems that would impede the process and require more downtime.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the responses Mr. Versi’s post has received are not from the most pleased:

Thankfully some users were seemingly pleased with the forthcoming honesty, including this one:

“Put up or shut up” vs “open book”

HTC One M9+ Camera Samples-60

The frustration that customers are feeling right now raises an interesting question of sorts: in this day and age where communication is just a fingertip away, and corporations take to Twitter with the bat of an eye, just what is the best way to approach this kind of situation? Silence is golden, as some might say.

At the same time by Mr. Versi sharing the news and letting customers know what’s going on, it can actually build trust or, at the very least, clarifies what would otherwise be an typical “more details will be announced later” canned reply from CS representatives.

What do you think?


Android Stuff: Double vision: Motorola has 2 new commercials for the Droid Turbo 2


Does anyone else see an emoji on the bottom bezel of the phone?

Motorola may be having a hard time these days thanks to a lawsuit that was just filed against it.  Thankfully, it can at relish in the fact that its Moto X Force/Droid Turbo 2 is virtually indestructible. Thanks to ShatterShield technology, the product is basically impervious to whatever kind of assault you might put it through or, as the case may be, life does itself – accidents do happen after all.

In a pair of quick new videos to promote its Verizon Droid Turbo 2, Motorola has taken a not-so-subtle slight at the fact that its competitors’ products are not built to last in quite the same way. A certain curved creation by Samsung can be seen in the first one, and a not-so-anonymous Apple offering in the second. Have  a look, first at the glass Galaxy:

And now the Cupertino creation:

Both videos feature an ambulance saving a character of sorts, then the key phrase “Save your world with a shatterproof screen” appears along with the Droid Turbo 2 logo and phone. Naturally there is also some fine print pasted at the portion near the bottom.

Curiously the videos lack any kind of demonstration of the shatterproof screen on the Moto-made mobile, something one might expect to find in a video that seeks to promote the fact that the screen is, well, supposed to be shatterproof. Then again at around 15 seconds each, it seems the key was just to showcase the horrors of a broken phone and asks the customer to research for visual evidence surrounding the Turbo 2 themselves.

With the iPhone video in particular the side of the phone is clearly shown as dented in, making it look quite bad indeed. Despite being made of plastic, the Droid Turbo 2 is also subject to damage on the frame as well.

On the topic of the Droid Turbo 2, it’s also worth pointing out a recent Tweet by veteran leaker Evan Blass:

It’s possible that this year will see another installment in the Turbo series, though it’s doubtful it will be unveiled soon, though Motorola is planning something.

What do you think of these commercials? Did Moto make magic or has it not offered enough excellent evidence? Leave your comments below!


Android Stuff: Fairphone just released their open source OS

fairphone 2 (2)

At the beginning of this year, Fairphone launched and began publishing sourcecode for their in-development operating system. Tech-savvy users were able to run this code on their Fairphone 2 devices, but more casual users were kind of left out of the loop. Now the company has put together a version of their Android-based operating system that anyone can download and install.

fairphone 2 (3)See also: Fairphone 2 impressions: an environmentally friendly, modular smartphone12

For those not in the know, Fairphone is a company that is attempting to create socially responsible smartphones. The idea is to create products built entirely by people earning a fair and livable wage. They are careful to avoid any involvement with child labor and never purchase materials from entities that would use the proceeds to fund illegal armies. One of the ways the company aims to stay competitive is by making their devices completely modular. That way, instead of upgrading to a new device every couple of years, Fairphone 2 owners can simply upgrade components once they become outmoded or broken.

fairphone 2 (4)

The device has a fairly steep price tag of $583 for what are essentially mid-range specs. The 5-inch Full HD LCD display is pretty nice, and it runs Lollipop out of the box. 2GB of RAM power the Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 chipset, and for internal storage, you start with 32GB with the option to expand via microSD. It’s not a stunning piece of tech razzle-dazzle, but the point with this handset isn’t to woo with specs. For DIY enthusiasts concerned about the human suffering that goes into creating these wonders of technology, the Fairphone 2 is a match made in heaven. The company estimates that the modular nature of the device means it can last you as long as half a decade.

One of the company’s core values is transparency, so an open operating system is a pretty natural move. If you’re interested in diving into the Fairphone movement, head over to their website and start contributing. Let us know what you think of this open source OS in the comments below, and stay tuned to AA for all coolest news happening in the Android world.

Next: We interviewed Fairphone, a smartphone company that sets an example for fairer electronics