Category Archives: Android

Nothing Chats, The Sunbird-Based iMessage App Is A Privacy Nightmare

Sunbird has been promising iMessage support on Android for about a year now, but the company has always seemed rather sketchy, 9TO5 Google reported. Now, as Nothing Chats, built on Sunbird, has launched, the privacy nightmare is coming true – not only is the app not end-to-end encrypted as promised, but image files from other users are pretty easy to access in plain text.

The promise of Sunbird, and in turn, Nothing Chats is to deliver iMessage support to Android. This is done by having users log into their Apple ID through the app which routes the login through a Mac server farm. It’s not a unique method, but the big differentiator here is that Sunbird has made a big deal out of claiming that end-to-end encryption is kept in place throughout the process.

Apple Insider reported that Nothing and Sunbird pulled the shockingly insecure iMessage bridge, but only after it was discovered that not only did Sunbird log and retain messages, vCards, and more, but that retained users data could also be downloaded by others.

According to Apple Insider, Nothing Chats was pulled from the Google Play Store on Saturday only a few days after it was introduced. Launched on November 14, suspicions were raised about the app within days, including its seeming lack of encryption, and the sending of login credentials over the internet using plaintext HTTP.

On Saturday, things got worse for the Nothing and Sunbird service, with more revelations over the astounding lack of security safeguards for the app.

Early in the day, Nothing removed the app from the Google Play Store. In a post on X, formerly Twitter, the phone maker somewhat optimistically says it is “delaying the launch until further notice to work with Sunbird to fix several bugs.”

Engadget reported that Nothing has pulled the beta on its new messaging app, Nothing Chats, from the Play Store just a day after release, and says it’s delaying the launch “until further notice.”

According to Engadget, the company touted the Sunbird-based Nothing Chats as the answer to the longstanding “Android vs Apple” texting woes, with support for both RCS and iMessage to bridge the gap. But since it’s announcement, a growing number of critics have voiced concerns over the risks that workarounds like this bring, arguing that Nothing Chats is an inherently less secure message option.

The @nothing account on X posted: “We’ve removed the Nothing Chats beta from the Play Store and will be delaying the launch until further notice to work with Sunbird to fix several bugs. We apologize for the delay and will do right by our users.”

Readers added context to @nothing’s post: Contrary to Nothing’s claim about fixing ‘bugs’ in their upcoming app, these issues are serious security & privacy lapses. 

Falsely advertised as end-to-end encrypted, exposes user data in plain text. The app was pulled for major fixes due to unencrypted user images & data.

In my opinion, Nothing should have tested out its app more before shipping its beta version of the app to the Play Store. Instead, it appears to have lied to users about how secure the app was, and now has removed it from the Play Store. 

Nord 3 Crosses the Channel

OnePlus LogoGNC readers may remember that when the OnePlus Nord 3 launched in early July, the mid-range smartphone wasn’t available in UK. No official explanation was given, but the good news is that the phone has now crossed the channel and is available for pre-order now at UK£499 for delivery on 18th August, if you pay for express delivery. To sweeten the deal, pre-orders come with a free pair of Nord Buds 2, which are worth £69.

As a quick reminder, the Nord 3 is OnePlus’ mid-range phone for Europe and India, sitting below the OnePlus 11 in the line-up. A MediaTek Dimensity 9000 chipset powers the phone and the UK variant comes with 16 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. On the screen front, the Nord 3 sports a 120 Hz Super Fluid AMOLED display measuring 6.74″ with a resolution of 2772 x 1240 pixels (450 ppi). All this is powered by a 5000 mAh battery, charged using 80 W SuperVOOC, which will restore the battery level from 0% to 60% in 15 mins.

The main camera is a 50 MP Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS (and that’s the same camera sensor as used in the 11). In addition, there’s a 112° ultra-wide camera and a 2 MP macro lens for close-up detail. On the front, the selfie cam is a 16 MP sensor.

Although two colours were announced in July – Tempest Gray and Misty Green – disappointingly it appears that only the Gray is currently available for pre-order. There’s no explanation why at the moment or if the Green will arrive at a later date. Let’s hope it does because the OnePlus greens always look great on the phone.

So, if you are in UK, and you’re looking for a mid-range phone, take a good look at the Nord 3. I haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with this one but I was impressed with the Nord 2 (which my wife currently uses as her daily phone).

OnePlus ups the mid-range game with Nord 3

OnePlus LogoSurprisingly, it’s been nearly two years since OnePlus launched the Nord 2 back in the pandemic, and while Covid 19 has now waned, OnePlus has gone on stronger with the continued success of the Nord series plus the introduction of entirely new products such as the Pad tablet. Keeping pace with progress, OnePlus today launched the Nord 3 5G smartphone, conveniently providing an upgrade path for the phone’s fans who are beginning to think about a new device.

As is OnePlus’ style, the phone’s been comprehensively teased for several weeks, continuing with the tagline, “Pretty much everything you could ask for” and, to be honest, they’re not wrong: my wife has been using a Nord 2 and she’s very happy with it. If the Nord 3 upholds this level of price, performance and materials, OnePlus will continue to have a winner on its hands.

As before, the Nord 3 sits atop OnePlus’ mid-range devices, below the OnePlus 11 but above the Nord CE 3 and N-series of phones, so I think we should be expecting a well-specified device with quality materials that most smartphone users will be pleased to use. For people new to OnePlus’ products, the Nord series tends to be for European and Indian markets, whereas the N-series goes to the Americas.

Moving onto the specs, the Nord 3 continues with MediaTek as silicon supplier and specifically the Dimensity 9000 chipset. For those unfamiliar with MediaTek, it’s a Taiwanese firm and is the third-largest fabless IC designer in the world with chips in thousands of products round the world. The Dimensity 9000 is their flagship ARM chipset and is very much on a par with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 in terms of performance (which is in the OnePlus 10T).

In terms of RAM and storage, there will be two variants with some variations between territories – 8 GB+128 GB, 16 GB+256 GB. On the screen front, the Nord 3 sports a 120 Hz Super Fluid AMOLED display measuring 6.74″ with a resolution of 2772 x 1240 pixels (450 ppi). That’s a bigger, faster and more detailed screen than the Nord 2, and it’s further improved by the removal of the bezel giving a seamless flat display. That’s a good upgrade.

Taking in the camera array round the back, it appears from the twin black circles that there are only two cameras, but further inspection reveals that there are two lenses embedded in the lower disc, similar to the CE 3. The main camera is a 50 MP Sony IMX890 sensor with OIS and that’s the same camera sensor as used in the 11, so it’s a top notch unit. In addition, there’s a 112° ultra wide camera and a 2 MP macro lens for close up detail. On the front, the selfie cam is a 16 MP sensor, which is a drop from the Nord 2’s 32 MP. For video, the Nord 3 will do up to 4K video at 60 fps. The OnePlus camera app supports the usual plethora of camera modes and filters – HDR, Nightscape, Portrait Mode, Video Portrait, Pano, Macro, Slo-mo, Time-lapse, etc. And for adventurous people, there’s dual-view video which will record from both the front and rear cameras simultaneously.

Powering the Nord 3 is a pair of 2,500 mAh batteries for a total of 5,000 mAh. The twin batteries  which takes advantage of 80 W SuperVOOC and will charge 0 to 60% in 15 mins – that’s quick. Both battery size and charging speed are a step up from the Nord 2: back then it was Warp charging! As expected, it’s a USB C port on the bottom, but while there’s no 3.5 mm audio jack, there are stereo speakers. Somewhat surprisingly, it looks like the IR-blaster is making a return. Cool. Size-wise, the Nord 3 is 163 x 73 mm x 8.1mm which is pretty much the same size as the previous Nord 2. It weighs in at 193g, give or take.

There are only two different phone colours this time  – Tempest Gray and Misty Green and from the the pictures, both look pretty good.

As would be expected, the Nord 3 supports 5G offering nearly 3 Gb/s in perfect conditions and there’s the usual dual-SIM tray for those looking to have, say, separate personal and business SIMs. Of course, there’s still OnePlus’ signature alert slider.

The Nord 3 comes with OxygenOS 13.1 which is based on Android 13 and OnePlus is now committing to three major Android updates and 4 years of security updates. I think that’s great to hear and in an increasingly resource-aware world, it means that you could be using the Nord for three years without worry. Being OxygenOS 13, the Nord 3 comes with many of the same software features as its siblings, the 11 and CE 3.

Let’s talk pricing….

OnePlus Nord 3
8 GB + 128 GB: 449 €
16 GB + 256 GB: 549 € (with a 499 € July special)

The Nord 3 is available to pre-order now from OnePlus for 16 EU countries plus India and Middle East. It’s not yet coming to the UK for “logistical challenges” which I expect is code for “problems caused by Brexit, the stupidest thing any country has done in modern history”. The unconfirmed UK price is £499 which I think is for the 16 GB version.

So far, what I’ve seen looks good…if you can get your hands on one. The Nord 3 is a step up from the original and continues to slot in neatly below the OnePlus 11 but above the Nord CE 2. With the 11 priced from 849 €, there’s clear water between the two in pricing and I’m struggling to think of the differences between the 11 and the Nord 3: Snapdragon Gen 2 chipset, better second lenses, Hasselblad camera tweaking…there’s not much really. Is it a “flagship killer”? Not in the sense of having unbeatable specs, but definitely in terms of thinking about what’s really relevant in your phone and what it’s worth.

Here’s the launch video.


OnePlus Pad Pricing Announced

OnePlus LogoAfter several months of waiting, the price point for the OnePlus Pad has been announced at UK£449 (499 € / US$479) for 8GB RAM and 128GB storage with pre-orders in Europe from 10:00 BST on Friday 28th April. Pre-orders will come with the choice of the OnePlus Folio Case or the SuperVOOC 80W adapter. Shipping is from 18th May so it’s a few weeks until the courier drops it off, as it were.

The full price list for the Pad and accessories is:

  • OnePlus Pad £449
  • Stylo (Pencil) £99
  • Magnetic Keyboard £149
  • Folio Case £59
  • 80W SUPERVOOC Adapter £39.

The original Early Bird offer when the pricing was unknown sold out in five days so it looks it’s going to be popular.

Toumas Lampen, European Head of Strategy, commented ’Earlier this year, we announced our ambition to build a Superior Digital Life for consumers. Today we take our next big step in that journey by announcing the price and pre-order dates of our first ever tablet, OnePlus Pad. Following a complete sell out of our Early Bird Offer earlier in April, we’re thrilled that people are as excited about OnePlus Pad as we are.’

A quick reminder of the specs….it’s a MediaTek Dimensity 9000 CPU driving an 11.6″ 2800×2000 pixel screen with a 144 Hz refresh rate and powered by a 9510 mAh battery. Four speakers support Dolby Atmos audio for great sound. The colour way is Halo Green and it has this lovely circular pattern on the rear, spreading out from the large camera array.

I think this is a good price point as it fills space that’s missing in the Samsung range. The Galaxy Tab A8 is in the £200+ range but the Tab S8 is £700+, so there’s a convenient slot there for OnePlus to position itself as a “not-quite-a-flagship-killer-but-only-about-half-the-price-of-one”.

I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one (fingers crossed!)

Reduce Uninstalls For Your App With Auto-Archive

Android Developers Blog posted information titled “Reduce uninstalls for your app with auto-archive”. It was posted by Chang Liu and Lidia Gaymond, Product Managers, Google Play. From the information:

Did you know that one of the main reasons users uninstall apps is to free up space? Today, whenever users try to install a new app on a nearly-full device, they see a dialog that allows them to manually uninstall the app to make room. However, sometimes uninstalling a whole app, including all of the user’s app data just isn’t necessary.

To reduce unnecessary uninstalls and help users successfully install new apps, we are introducing a new feature: auto archive. Once a user opts in, auto-archive can help them automatically free up to nearly 60% of an app’s storage space, without removing the app presence or users’ data from the device.

What is auto-archive?

Auto-archive is a new feature that allows users to free up space on their device without the need to complete uninstall an app. Once the user opts in, infrequently used apps will be partly removed from the device to save space, whilst the app icon and the user’s personal app data will be preserved. When the user wants to start using the app again, they can simply tap to re-download it and pick up where they left off (as long as the app is still available on Google Play).

Eligibility of auto-archive

Auto-archive is only available for developers using the App Bundle to publish their apps. If your app supports archiving, users will be less likely to see it surfaced amongst uninstall suggestions.

TechCrunch reported that Android users will see a prompt to use the auto-archiving feature when their device is running out to storage while trying to install a new app. They can then choose to activate the feature, which automatically archives their unused apps while also removing things like permissions and temporary files and disabling notifications.

“Your device is out of storage, and you won’t be able to install this app. With app archiving turned on, your device will detect when you don’t have enough storage and automatically archive apps that you don’t use often. Your personal data will be saved in case you download the app again,” the prompt reads.

The feature will make Android devices more competitive with iOS, which for years had made suggestions about apps to unload. In 2017, Apple introduced personalized recommendations to remove unused apps in iOS 11. To enable the automatic removal of these apps, iPhone users can head to Settings > General > iPhone Storage and tap Enable on the Offload Unused apps toggle.

To me, it sounds as though both Google and Apple want to give their users a way to offload unused apps by allowing them to archive the apps they do not regularly use. I like that there is an option, for both Android and iOS users, to save space on their devices without entirely losing an app.

Chrome For Android 13 Gets Updates

Google posted an article on The Keyword titled: “Productivity just got better in Chrome on Android tablets”. It was written by Lola Adams, Product Manager, Chrome.

Tablets let you browse the web at home or on the go, whether you’re shopping for a new TV or finishing up some work. With the next release of Chrome on Android, we make it easier to navigate between tabs and get work done faster on your tablets.

Here’s a closer look at the latest Chrome updates available now on all Android tablets, and on the new Pixel Tablet, when it launches next year:

Find the Tap You’re Looking For

Google added a new side-by-side design that makes finding the right tab easier in Chrome. If you’re switching back and forth between two tabs, the auto-scroll back feature can help you swipe back to your previous tab. And to prevent you from accidentally closing tabs in the first place, we’ll hide the close button when tabs become too small. If you close a tab you didn’t intend to, one-step restore can get you right back to where you were.

View Your Tabs Through The Visual Tab Grid

This feature is perfect for people who have a lot of open tabs. Instead of searching through all your tabs in one single horizontal stream, tabs are shown in a grid, with a preview that helps you navigate with fewer taps. Google says visual tabs also help if you have a foldable device, because the smaller, folded screen on the outside matches the bigger screen on the inside of your tablet.

Drag and Drop Out Of Chrome

You can now easily drag images, text, and links that spark your interest from Chrome and drop them into another app like Gmail, Photos, or Keep.

Easily Browse in Desktop Mode

If a website isn’t working the way it should on your tablet or you just prefer the desktop experience, you can set Chrome to always request and display the desktop version of the site. This may give you capabilities that are currently only found on the desktop version, like certain menus and buttons.

Use Tab Groups on Your Tablet

Tabs groups are coming to Chrome and Android tablets. You’ll be able to stay organized by grouping related tabs together so you can better focus on one task without seeing clutter from other open tabs.

Gizmodo reported that the Chrome for Android tablets update is rolling out now through the Google Play Store. According to Gizmodo, it will take a few days, but is easy to tell if it reached you – check the app in Play Store on your tablet device, tap About this app, and then scroll down to see the date when it was updated.

TechCrunch reported: After ignoring the app experience on Android tablets for years, Google appears increasingly focused on turning things around… At the developer conference Google IO in May, it promised to fine-tune over 20 of its own apps for the tablet experience. Now, the search giant is beginning to deliver on that pledge, starting with the browser Chrome.

Obviously, the updates to Chrome for Android are only available for those who are using Android 13 (Go edition), which was released five years ago. Hopefully, people will find that the update provides them with features that they like.

Nothing Launches Phone(1) from London

Carl Pei (and a parrot) launched Nothing‘s Phone(1) today in London. Starting in a café, moving to a theatre and ending at the after party, it was a surprisingly brief run through of the new phone.

The big thing is the glyph feature on the back. Glyph’s will be familiar to anyone who has played Niantic’s Ingress but simplistically it’s four shapes on the rear of the phone: a circle in the middle, a vertical line bottom centre, an angled line to right and an oval C round the cameras. The glyphs are multifunctional and can synchronise with ringtones, indicate who is calling, show charging activity or simply act as a light while recording video. There are videos of the glyphs in action over on Instagram.

Moving to the rest of the phone, the body of Phone(1) has an aluminium frame with a Gorilla Glass 5 front. Everything that’s touched is made of premium materials and where plastics are used, over 50% is either recycled plastic or a bioplastic. In what’s believed to be a first, any tin used inside the phone comes from recycled materials.

There’s a 6.55″ AMOLED 2400×1080 pixel display supporting HDR10+ with a 120Hz refresh rate so it’ll be smooth too. There’s some clever trickery involving flexible displays to make the bezels even all round – now that’s an attention to detail.

Round the back, there are only two cameras but they’re both pretty good. Both are 50 MP sensors and the main camera is a Sony IMX766. The ultrawide is a Samsung JM1 with a 114 degree view. These sensors are widely used and should take decent photos. If you want to see some untouched photos from the Phone(1), there’s a selection here.

Inside is Snapdragon 778+ processor which provides stability whilst still being fast and smooth. Carl says, “Buttery smooth” – I think we’ve heard that somewhere else already but I’m sure it’s true. A 7-series processor fits nicely into the upper mid-range as per expectations. While it may be the current flagship for Nothing, it’s not going up against those £1000 top tier devices.

Powering it all is a 4,500 mAh battery. Wired charging is 33W so should charge from flat in a little over an hour. There’s wireless charging at 15W and reverse wireless charging is 5W.

NothingOS is obviously based on Android and Carl was keen to point out that Android is good with loads of natice apps. There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, as it were, so it stays close to the original. Nothing will develop software where they can add value, and in the first instance there’s extra software that works with Tesla Cars and NFTs. Both are hot at the moment, so quite understandable.

The Phone(1) is available in both black and white, and there are three RAM and storage combinations with prices to match.

  • 8GB + 128GB = UK£399 (this one seems to be only available in black)
  • 8GB + 256GB = UK£449
  • 12GB + 256BB = UK£499

There are some extras: a clear case is £25, a charger is £35 and screen protector is £19. The blurb suggests a screen protector is already applied to the phone in the box.

There will be open availability from 21st July but if you are really desperate to get one, hotfoot it round to the Nothing Kiosk in Convent Garden from 16th July.

Overall, The Phone(1) looks a good upper mid-range phone that’s priced a little below the competition: I’m thinking of the Xiaomi 12 and the OnePlus 9 though it’s a little more than the Nord 2. It will be interesting to see if the glyphs make interesting enough to stand out from the crowd.

Disclosure: I have a small shareholding in Nothing.