Tag Archives: Android

Android Display and Lock Screen Settings are a Mess



Android Green Robot LogoA few weeks ago Ambient Mode arrived on my OnePlus 6T and much as I love my phone, Ambient Mode took way too long to get working properly: Android’s settings for displays and lock screens are a complete mess. There are far too many complexities and inter-dependencies.

(For those not familiar with Ambient Mode, it’s a dark lock screen that shows information based on Google Assistant, such as travel information.)

If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at the ways we can configure the phone’s screen to do something when not actually in use. Starting with a rummage through Display settings within the normal phone settings app there is…

Menu itemsSleep which can be configured from as short as 15 seconds to as long as 30 minutes. On the 6T, it first turns off the backlight. If the phone is charging, it will stay like this with apps still visible, albeit dimly, but if on battery, the screen will go completely black a few seconds later.

Screen saver starts when the 6T is charging or docked, and the phone is sleeping. The phone will lock behind the scenes when the screen saver is running.

Ambient display  will display a clock and notifications when the phone is picked up or the screen is tapped, if your phone is already locked. It’s a dark (black) screen so won’t blind you in the night. Why is this even in Display settings when it’s a lock screen feature? It should be in with Security and Lock Screen.

Moving on, in the Security and Lock Screen settings, we have configuration for locking and unlocking the 6T.

Automatically lock after sleep gives the period of timing after sleeping before the lock screen kicks in. Varies from immediately to 30 minutes.

Power button instantly locks is a useful setting. Turned on, you can cut out some of the waiting around.

Smart Lock can be configured to not lock your phone in specific places, such as home. Normally this is useful when you’re safe at home, but if you want Ambient display or Ambient Mode to kick in when the phone is locked, it’s not so useful.

All of the above are in the standard OnePlus settings app. New kid on the block is Ambient Mode which replaces the standard lock screen with a Google Assistant-based dark grey lock screen. Turning on Ambient Mode takes a couple of screen taps. First, go to and open the Google app. Press More (the three dots), then Settings, then Google Assistant, next scroll down to Assistant Devices and finally choose Phone. Turn on Ambient Mode. That’s not hard to work out at all. Unbelievable.

Now, there’s one final “gotcha”. In the Developer Options, which is easily enabled by anyone, there is Stay awake which stops the phone from sleeping and locking if the 6T is charging. If this setting is turned on, none of the display or lock screen modes will kick in automatically. That’s Screen saver, Ambient display and Ambient Mode. If you are having problems in this area, check you haven’t got this setting on.

As I think you’ll see from the rundown above, there is plenty of scope for confusion and misunderstanding with display and lock screen settings. It took me a good twenty minutes to figure out why Ambient Mode wouldn’t kick in automtically before finally configuring it correctly. PITA.


Google Upgrades Android Messages with RCS



Google announced that it will be upgrading Android Messages with RCS. This new feature has already begun rolling out to users in the United States. Those who already have Messages will be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. Android users who don’t yet have it can download it in the Play Store. Google expects to have this service broadly available in the U.S. by the end of the year. Google enabled the RCS upgrade earlier this year for anyone in the UK, France, and Mexico.

To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services). When you and your friends message each other with these chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. Plus, you’ll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven’t seen the latest messages.

TechCrunch described RCS as “the next generation of SMS”. According to TechCrunch, the push for RCS is a way for Google to compete with Apple’s iMessages, (though Google’s RCS doesn’t feature end-to-end encryption). In addition, TechCrunch makes another interesting observation. Google is taking control of this rollout, and that means it will be responsible for keeping the network running.

ArsTechnica also points out that Android Messages is not end-to-end encrypted, stating that “Google or your carrier (or the NSA) could read your messages”.

The Verge reported that many Android phones use Android Messages as the default texting app, but Samsung users will need to go to the Google Play Store to download Android Messages and then switch it to their default. The Verge also noted that the big four US carriers just announced that they will offer RCS in 2020.

In my opinion, it seems like Google has gotten ahead of the big four carriers with RCS implementation – but not by very much. It sounds like Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are heading in the same direction, and could potentially be rolling that out a few months from now. The bigger concern, though, is that Android Messages is not end-to-end encrypted. That could result in privacy issues.


OnePlus Turbos 7T Pro With McLaren Edition



Hot the heels of the OnePlus 7T launch last month in US and India, the 7T Pro and 7T Pro McLaren Edition were revealed in London, fulfilling the promise of “more to come”. In line with the OnePlus modus operandi, the T editions are the performance upgrades to the standard models released earlier in the year. So what’s changed for the 7T Pro?

Under the hood, there’s an upgrade to the processor with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 Plus, boosting graphics rendering and processing speeds by 15%. On the power side, OnePlus’s latest fast charge technology “Warp Charge 30T” is brought to the new OnePlus 7T Pro. Results include 23% faster charge speed than Warp Charge 30 and charging to around 68% capacity in just 30 minutes.

The display stays the same with the 90 Hz Fluid Display and an edge-to-edge QHD+ display – that’s a 3120×1440 resolution giving 516 ppi!

What hasn’t stayed the same is the camera which now has three lenses on the back for a new macro mode for really close-up photography. On top of that there’s an advanced hybrid image stabilization system combining OIS and EIS technologies for smooth and clear videos. As with the 7, the front-facing selfie cam pops up from the top.

On the software side, OxygenOS has been updated to version 10, making it the first phone to come with Android 10 out of the box.

The new flagship smartphones we unveiled today showcase OnePlus’s constant pursuit of an excellent user experience,” said Pete Lau, CEO and Founder of OnePlus. “The OnePlus 7T Pro combines the latest innovations with our signature features such as 90 Hz Fluid Display and a triple camera setup for the next level in fast and smooth experience. We’ve also teamed up again with McLaren to challenge the standards for a premium smartphone.

And if the 7T Pro wasn’t enough, then take a look at the McLaren Edition. With orange highlights, it references the legendary motorsport firm – only Ferrari have more F1 wins – with papaya orange trim. Frankly, I think they should have made the back completely orange.

In the box, there’s a custom case for the OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren edition, which is covered with Alcantara, a composite fabric material that provides a soft and subtle feel while being good and grippy.

The software on the phone has been tweaked too with McLaren animations, themes and wallpapers. The lock screen features a minimalist timepiece, inspired by McLaren’s dashboard instrumentation. For notifications, the display’s curved edges softly illuminate with a papaya orange glow. Additionally, custom-made icons complete the overall McLaren experience.

The McLaren edition is turbocharged with 256 GB of storage and 12 GB  RAM. Expect to pay an additional £100 for the privilege.

Following last year’s successful ‘Salute to Speed’ launch we’re excited to once again be launching a limited-edition McLaren device with our partner OnePlus. We are two challenger brands whose restless pursuit of innovation reaches its pinnacle with the new OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition. The OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren Edition celebrates our brands’ shared passion for design, craftsmanship and innovation and we look forward to seeing how this is received by technology enthusiasts and McLaren fans worldwide.” Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive.

For pricing and availability in the UK, these are the options, prices and availability dates for the 7T series.

  

RAM 

ROM 

Price 

Date

OnePlus 7T 

8GB 

128GB 

 £549 

10:00 BST, 17 Oct

OnePlus 7T Pro 

8GB 

256GB 

£699

10:00 BST, 17 Oct

OnePlus 7T Pro McLaren edition 

12GB 

256GB 

£799

10:00 GMT, 5 Nov

 


OnePlus Announces Launch Events for 7T



OnePlus have announced the launch events for the upcoming OnePlus 7T smartphone. Starting in India and the US on 26 September, it will culminate with the European launch on 10 October in London at 16.00 BST.

As usual, OnePlus will be selling tickets to the event, which will be at the brand new Magazine London venue in North Greenwich. The tix go on-sale from 20th September via OnePlus.com.

OnePlus Launch NoticePete Lau, CEO and founder of OnePlus said, “OnePlus has been built around the idea of fast and smooth, and we constantly challenge ourselves to be even better. Your smartphone’s display is the element you interact with the most, so it makes sense to invest in screen innovation. I’m really excited to hear what our users think of the OnePlus 7T Series.

Going with OnePlus’ normal behaviour, the 7T is expected to be an incremental upgrade, rather than an entirely new model. The invite confirms that the 7T will come with a 90 Hz display but you never know what else might appear – the press release promises “more to come in London”. Apparently OnePlus are launching a magazine too, called “Addition”. Interesting.

If you can’t be there in person, the launch event will be streamed live via the OnePlus official website or on its YouTube and Twitter accounts.


OnePlus 7 Landing in UK Next Week



While both the OnePlus 7 and 7 Pro were announced earlier in the month, the 7’s availability was only listed as “June”. Today, OnePlus confirmed that the 7 would be available to buy in the UK from next week – 4 June.

The spiritual successor to the 6T, the 7 is still well-specified with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 CPU, UFS 3.0 and Dolby Atmos stereo speakers, plus software features like RAM boost, new screen unlock technology and the UltraShot photography engine, all borrowed from the 7 Pro.

The 7’s main rear sensor features Sony’s IMX586, a 48-megapixel, ½ inch super-sized sensor with an aperture of f/1.7, and OIS and EIS. While it’s not a pop-up camera, the front-facing camera is 5-megapixel, perfect for selfies and video calling. Of course, there’s a curvaceous notch at the top of the screen…

The 7 is cheaper than it’s Pro sibling, coming in at GB£499 for the 6GB RAM, 128GB storage model, and GB£549 for the 8GB RAM, 256GB version. Both are Mirror Gray and good value IMHO. For reference, the 7 Pro starts at GB£649

Available from OnePlus.com, EE and John Lewis from next Tuesday.


OnePlus Shows Off OnePlus 7 Series



With the usual level of hoopla, OnePlus showed off the new OnePlus 7 Series of phones at three launch events in Bangalore, London and New York. Consisting of the 7, 7 Pro and 7 Pro 5G, it’s the first time the company has simultaneously launched multiple models – the closest OnePlus came to this in the past was with the 2 and the X models way back in 2015. Right at the end, Bullets Wireless 2 were announced too.

I watched the London event to see CEO, Pete Lau, take to the stage, review OnePlus’ journey and introduce the new models with a string of guests, including Akis Evangelidis (VP OnePlus France) and Kate Parkyn (Head of Growth OnePlus Europe).

The 7 Pro took centre stage and the phone sports a whopping 6.67-inch curved glass display with a 19.5:9 aspect ratio, making this the biggest phone that OnePlus has made, even with the absence of bezels. The screen is branded Fluid AMOLED, with 516 pixels per inch (QHD+) and supports HDR10 & HDR10+ for fantastic visual dynamic range. Beyond that, the screen is capable of an astonishing 90 Hz refresh rate. Fast and smooth for sure. OnePlus 7 Pro has earned DisplayMate’s highest A+ rating, making it one of the top smartphone displays on the market

Screen unlock is still there and will typically unlock the phone in 0.21 seconds: that’s 28% faster than 6T and OnePlus claims it’s the fastest of any smartphone on the market.

There are three cameras on the back of the phone, which form a triple camera system. There’s a state-of-the-art 48 megapixel Sony IMX586 sensor with OIS, an 8 megapixel 78 mm telephoto lens at f/2.4 and 1μm pixel size and stabilised by OIS, and a 16 megapixel 117° ultra-wide angle lens at f/2.2. Together these produce great photos in daylight and lowlight, as demonstrated by the photos on show by Krystle Wright, an Adventure Photographer with National Geographic. For other proof, DxOMark scored the 7 Pro at 111 which is the second highest score ever recorded.

There’s no notch on 7 Pro’s screen and the seflie camera pops up. It’s covered in sapphire glass and the mechanism has been tested over 300,000 times, so it should be good for a few years (but try to avoid getting any sand in there.) If you drop the camera, the phone will detect the free-fall and automatically retract the camera. That’s neat.

Inside the 7 Pro, it’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 and with up to 12 GB of RAM, it’s 45% faster and consumes 20% less power. It uses UFS 3.0 storage making it one of the first phones to use the memory type. The extra RAM can be used for RAM Boost, which is a caching technology to speed up loading times.

The new phone will come in three colours – Mirror Gray, Almond and Nebula Blue – and the last two look very good.

The presentation diverted into 5G and how wonderful it’s going to be, with gushing presentations from Qualcomm and EE. I always have a sense of déjà vu at these points as I seem to remember the same presentations for 3G and 4G. Ok, it’s going to be faster than before. Move on.

The 7 Pro will go on sale from 21st May, priced from GB£649 for 6 GB RAM, 128 GB ROM. Top of the range is £799 for 12 GB RAM, 256 GB ROM. Pricing and availability for the 5G version is TBA.

The poor OnePlus 7 (not Pro, not 5G) didn’t even get a mention until over an hour in. It’s the direct successor to the 6T and most obviously, it retains the notch for the front-facing camera. In fact, the form factor hasn’t really changed so it’s a smaller 6.41″ display, with a comparatively low 402 pixels-per-inch resolution(!) However, it has the same CPU (Snapdragon 855), UFS 3.0 and main camera sensor (IMX586) as the 7 Pro, so it’s nothing to be sniffed at all. Dolby Atmos stereo speakers are present too along with the larger in-screen fingerprint reader.

Pricewise, the 7 comes in at £499 for 6 GB RAM, 128 GB ROM and will be on sale in June. Do I upgrade from my 3T….?

OnePlus pop-ups start from 16th May and will run in 21 cities across Europe and more details can be found here. The UK pop-up is taking place in the stunning roof garden of John Lewis and Partners’ flagship store on Oxford Street in London, on the 17th May.

There’s loads of extra information over at the OnePlus website.


Android Q has a Live Caption Feature



Google shared details about what is new in Android Q. One of the best new features makes smartphones more accessible to people who are deaf or hard of hearing. The feature is called Live Caption.

We are also seeing many firsts in software driven by on-device machine learning. One of these features is Live Caption. For 466 million deaf and hard of hearing people around the world, captions are more than a convenience – they make content more accessible. We worked closely with the Deaf community to develop a feature that would improve access to digital media.

With a single tap, Live Caption will automatically caption media that’s playing audio on your phone. Live Caption works with videos, podcasts and audio messages, across any app – even stuff you record yourself. As soon as speech is detected, captions will appear, without ever needing WiFi or cell phone data, and without any audio or captions leaving your phone.

The Verge reported that the Live Caption transcription appears in a black box that can be freely moved around your phone’s screen to wherever it is most convenient. The feature works even if your volume is turned down or muted. Transcriptions cannot be saved for later review.

You can find Live Caption, and other Android Q features, in the Android Q beta. The beta is available for 21 devices from 13 brands, including all Pixel phones.

Accessibility is very important, and Live Caption will make it easier for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate with their friends and family on video chats. In addition, the same feature can be used by anyone who wants to watch a video in public without having the sound of the video bother everyone around them.