• Apps

    by Published on 05-19-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. How-To,
    4. Apps



    I spend a lot of time here making the case for smartphones as true pocket computers, not just Internet and app-enabled appliances. I try to demonstrate how you can fully exploit the potential of an Android-powered device with an unlocked bootloader and root, and how you can use these tools to blocks ads, backup, restore or freeze apps, change your theme or even your file system.

    But I'll let you in on a little secret: a couple of weeks ago I bought a Kindle.

    I know, right? Hypocritical much? This single purpose device riddled with DRM is pretty much the polar opposite of a generative computing device. But the Kindle is technically a tablet and tablets are technically mobile, and that's the justification I'm using for what I actually want to talk about, the Kindle DRM—which can be easily, almost trivially, stripped out of your Amazon purchases using a desktop computer.

    To be clear, I did buy a Kindle and I think it's a fine ebook-reading device, but I would never had bought the thing without the means to liberate my legal Amazon ebook purchases from it.

    You'll need two bits of software to do the same, both of which are 100% free. The first is the Calibre ebook management app, which you can install on Linux, Mac and Windows systems. You'll also need a plugin called DeDRM, which you can read about on the author's blog and download from GitHub. Both the app and the plug are open source—that is, free as in freedom as well as free as in beer.

    Get your plugin installed by following the instructions on the author's site and you're nearly done. If you're on a PC or Mac you'll also need the desktop Kindle app (free as in beer only) as this will include Amazon's encryption key. On my Linux box I had the extra step of entering my Kindle's serial number.

    At this point you can open your legal Amazon purchases in Calibre, and export them to any file format of your choosing. Stripping DRM may technically be illegal depending on where you live, but it's certainly better than pirating books—this way Amazon, the publishers and authors all get their money, and you get full property rights to the ebooks that you've paid for. Of course I would prefer if Amazon sold DRM-free books in the first place, but as workarounds go this one's pretty easy.

    So that's why I bought a Kindle... and if none of this is mobile enough for you, what about my first purchase for it?

    Links: Calibre, DeDRM

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    by Published on 05-18-2017 08:35 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    It seems that Netflix has joined the wrong side in the war on general purpose computing, denying access to their service on rooted Android devices. How and why would root be a threat to Netflix? Honestly, I've no idea; the only means I could find for capturing and saving Netflix streams are desktop PC apps.

    Android Police reports that the technology that enables this B.S. is a new function of the Google Play Console—specifically a check box which can disallow devices that fail Google's SafetyNet. So what's a rooted Android user to do? Use Magisk, that's what!

    Magisk is short for "Magic Mask", and is described as a universal systemless interface by XDA recognized developer topjohnwu. It's installed in the same way as Chainfire's SuperSU—a zip file flashed via a custom recovery—but offers a lot more functionality via installable modules. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the old Xposed Installer that for Android modders was all the rage back in 2014. Magisk includes a root module (obviously) but can also hide root on a per-app basis, meaning that you can now enjoy Netflix on your rooted phone or tablet, along with Super Mario Run and Pokémon GO.

    And if that's not enough, you can extend Magisk even further with a module that blocks ads system-wide.

    From the official XDA thread, here are the steps to get it up and running:

    Restore your boot image back to stock;
    download the latest Magisk zip file;
    reboot to a custom recovery;
    flash Magisk zip;
    reboot;
    update Magisk Manager to the latest version on the Play Store.

    Requirements are an unlocked bootloader and custom recovery.

    Full disclosure: I've not yet installed Magisk on any of my devices; I'm prepping my OnePlus 3 for it right now, will report back if anything goes horribly wrong...

    Links: Android Police, Play Store, XDA

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    by Published on 05-09-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    Cool, they turned Google Keep into an operating system. </s>

    Seriously, this is what Mountain View is calling Armadillo, the UI layer of a mobile OS called Fuchsia, which could one day replace Android. And here's Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica with his best attempt to explain what's going on:

    Above the profile section are a bunch of cards labeled "Story [something]." The readme describes stories as "a set of apps and/or modules that work together for the user to achieve a goal." That seems pretty close to a recent apps list, maybe (eventually) with some kind of grouping feature. Tapping on any card will load it as a full-screen interface, and since one is labeled "email," it's pretty obvious that these are apps.
    Mmkay.

    Perhaps this video demo, where the grabbed screen comes from, will enlighten us:



    Nope, still not getting it.

    But hey, if you want to try Fuchsia and Armadillo for yourself Kyle Bradshaw, the author of the video, has compiled an .apk of Armadillo that you can install and run on your Android device.

    Me? Nah, I'm good.

    My derision for Google's latest flight of fancy stems from the project's proprietary nature. At present all the sources for Fuchsia are available on Github, which is great. But here's the bad news: if it ever sees a commercial release Fuchsia won't run on the Linux kernel but instead an in-house microkernel with a less-open software license. Which means no kernel sources. Which means no custom ROMs. Which means no thanks.

    Source: Hotfix IT via Ars Technica

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    by Published on 05-04-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Apps



    First, the good news: unless you clicked on a screen like this yesterday afternoon, both you and your contacts are probably safe.

    It was around that time that stories started popping up in my news feeds about a phishing scam seeking access to users' Google accounts through Google Docs. Everything I saw linked to this reddit thread, which summarized the threat as follows:

    • uses the existing Google login system
    • uses the name "Google Docs"
    • is only detectable as fake if you happen to click "Google Docs" whilst granting permission
    • replicates itself by sending itself to all your contacts
    • bypasses any 2 factor authentication / login alerts
    • will send scam emails to everyone you have ever emailed
    Pretty scary, right? That reddit thread was posted just before 3 pm Eastern; at 6:20 pm
    Google Docs tweeted this statement:

    We have taken action to protect users against an email impersonating Google Docs & have disabled offending accounts. We’ve removed the fake pages, pushed updates through Safe Browsing, and our abuse team is working to prevent this kind of spoofing from happening again. We encourage users to report phishing emails in Gmail.
    Even better, Android Police reported before midnight that Google had published a new version of the Gmail app for Android, with phishing protection baked in.

    I see a lot of phishing emails on my non-Google email accounts, and I'm pretty impressed with how quickly Google moved to neutralize this threat. Hopefully no one reading this was affected by it!

    Sources: Android Police, @GoogleDocs on Twitter, reddit

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    by Published on 05-02-2017 07:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    It's no secret that messaging is broken on Android. Where different services once talked to each other via XMPP, today a user will likely have multiple and incompatible messaging apps and services installed on their phone. And Google certainly isn't helping; not only are they removing SMS integration from Hangouts but they're turning Hangouts itself into an enterprise app.

    Meanwhile, over on iOS everything seems to be fine.

    I'm not an iPhone user myself, but from what I understand Apple has worked hard to make iMessage the only messaging app their users are likely to need. It takes the ubiquity of SMS and adds in the convenience of being able to text from a phone, tablet and/or computer. Wouldn't it be great if there was a solution like this for Android?

    There is, and it's called Pulse SMS.

    I read a glowing review of the app on Greenbot over the weekend, and after testing it for the past few days I can say it works exactly as promised. Once I set up an online account I could install a tablet version and text from that device as well. For the web there are no less than three ways to access your account: a browser plugin (which I'm currently using) a Chrome app and a regular web login. Pulse supports the dual SIM cards on my OnePlus 3, along with full support for Android Wear—meaning that I have full access to messages on my wrist, not just the notifications for new ones. And if, for some reason, you need to text from the 4K display in your living room, Android TV is fully supported as well.

    The one catch is that the service is not free, but you can at least enjoy a seven-day free trial before you pick one of the paid subscription options. I immediately went for the one-time payment of $13.99 CAD ($10.00 USD) instead; it's already proved to be 100% worth it.

    Sources: Greenbot, Play Store

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    by Published on 03-31-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers,
    3. Apps



    With Congress having cleared the way for U.S. operators to sell your browsing history to advertisers, Verizon is wasting no time, partnering with the developers of the popular Android launcher Evie to bring a new search tool to its customers on that platform. Unlike Evie, this new Verizon app isn't exactly getting rave reviews. Here's Cory Doctorow to explain why:

    "AppFlash" will come pre-installed on all Verizon Android handsets; it's a Google search bar replacement, but instead of feeding telemetry about your searches, handset, apps and activities to Google, it will send them to Verizon.
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation pored through Verizon's privacy policy for AppFlash, and found proof that your data will indeed be sold to third parties:

    “AppFlash information may be shared within the Verizon family of companies, including companies like AOL who may use it to help provide more relevant advertising within the AppFlash experience and in other places, including non-Verizon sites, services and devices.”
    If you're an Android user with a Verizon-branded phone, you might want to look into rooting and de-bloating it.

    Sources: Android Police, Boing Boing, EFF, The Verge

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    by Published on 03-28-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    Here's British Home Secretary Amber Rudd telling the BBC how law enforcement needs access to WhatsApp. A lone attacker who killed four people and injured fifty more in London last week apparently accessed the messaging service just before the attack began.

    The pertinent sound bite from Ms. Rudd:

    "It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide. We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other."
    The issue is, of course, that WhatsApp deployed end-to-end encryption across its platform in late 2014. That date is not insignificant; the Snowden revelations of 2013—that is, the indiscriminate spying of citizens by the NSA, GCHQ and other Five Eyes partners—are at least partly responsible for the rise of encrypted messaging, and indeed the full disk encryption now standard on both Android and iOS.

    To believe that compromising WhatsApp will immediately make the world safer is more than a bit naive; The Independent ran a recent story on the former computer security chief for the UK's Ministry of Defence, who points out rather obviously that those wishing to spread terror will just move on to something else.

    Sources: BBC News, The Independent

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    by Published on 03-27-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    So Nintendo's Super Mario Run finally came to Android last week. For some reason it's not yet available to Canadians but no worries, eh? You can download and install the official Android package from APK Mirror. Only problem is that if you do that, especially on a rooted Android device, you will eventually be locked out of the game and presented with the error message above.

    A Google search of support code 804-5100 yielded this possible fix:

    1. Download/install a (root) file manager app from the Play store and open it.
    2. Go to the following directory on your device’s internal storage — /data/data/com.nintendo.zara
    3. You'll see the deviceAccount:.xml file inside the folder, delete this file.
    4. Open the Super Mario Run game again and sync it with your Nintendo account.
    Not sure what syncing the game to a Nintendo account has to do with anything, but I dutifully followed the instructions above and was still locked out of the game.

    In one sense it's no big deal, because Super Mario Run seems to be a pretty average gaming experience at best. Before I was locked out I got the thrill of playing through two plodding tutorial levels and sitting through a bunch of cut scenes that I couldn't skip through—nothing at all like the best mobile games I've played where you're dumped right in to the action and have to figure things out as you go.

    In another sense, however, it represents yet another attack from the bad guys in the war on general purpose computing, just like Pokémon GO. It's fairly arrogant to presume that someone would root their Android device for the sole purpose of cheating a game, and in the specific case of Mario I've yet to hear of any such cheat. If it's not root but a geo-blocking issue, that would only make sense if Nintendo was trying managing the load on their servers—because, if you didn't know, this particular game title requires a persistent data connection to work.

    Whatever the case, if you're an Android user with root don't bother wasting your time on Super Mario Run. You've likely got better, more important things to do with your device.

    Links: Cory Doctorow, Howard Forums, The Android Soul

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    by Published on 03-24-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    This may not affect every Android user reading this, but it's unfortunate news nonetheless. Android Police reports that G Suite administrators have received email notices from Google warning that SMS will no longer be supported in Google's de facto chat app as of May 22nd. Affected Hangouts users will be seeing the above in-app alert starting March 27th.

    Hangouts has supported SMS since Android 4.4; those who made use of it—myself included for a time—enjoyed the benefits of needing one less icon on their home screen and, more importantly, having all of their non-email messages contained within a single app.

    I can think of at least one technical reason why the change needs to happen: with RCS coming to text messaging it might be too daunting for Google to add Hangouts support, especially when Hangouts itself is already undergoing a fairly significant makeover.

    There may well be another, more pragmatic reason, as a redditor on this r/Android thread explains:

    Hangouts Users: "Why would I use Allo when Hangouts has IM and SMS?"
    Google: "Good point.... Aaaaand fixed."
    Sources: Android Police, reddit

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    by Published on 03-17-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    I think it's supposed to rhyme with "ATM". And honestly, that's about the only thing about this story that makes any sense.

    Mobile Syrup reported yesterday that Paytm, the largest mobile payments company in India, was coming to Canada. In fact, it's technically already here—they've apparently been renting office space in Toronto since 2014.

    How does it work? I found these instructions from Gadgets360, an Indian tech site:

    1. Set up a Paytm account using your mobile number and email;
    2. Add money to your Paytm Wallet from your bank, debit or credit card;
    3. Select 'Pay or Send' to transfer money to someone else;
    4. Make a payment by scanning a QR code, or...
    5. Send money to another Paytm user via their phone number.

    So the business model here is fairly obvious; at any given time Paytm is making interest off of whatever cash their 150 million users have deposited in their mobile wallets. And while I can certainly appreciate the value of a mobile wallet in a country where maybe not everyone has a credit card, I don't think that's so much the case in Canada. Furthermore, there are existing solutions already offering some or all of Paytm's features—SmoothPay, PayPal, and ZenBanx are similar apps that I've previously covered here.

    If you're a Canadian with business and/or family in India (or vice versa) then the arrival of Paytm in this country is probably great news. But I'm struggling to see any value in it for anyone else.

    Sources: Gadgets360, Mobile Syrup, Paytm

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    by Published on 03-16-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    The inspiration for today's post comes from a story this week on ZDNet, about how Pidgin, an IM client for Linux, is unable to support popular platforms like Slack or WhatsApp. This may sound crazy, but not so long ago there was a time when such disparate chat service could all be accessed by the same app.

    For desktop Linux Pidgin did a great job, and for my S60-powered Nokia smartphones of the late 2000s there were even more choices—Fring, IM+ and Nimbuzz each enabled me to connect to Facebook Messenger, Hangouts (then Google Talk) and more, all from a single interface. The magic that made this possible was, in most cases, the Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol—XMPP for short.

    So what happened? Facebook XMPP support unofficially ended in the summer of 2015, after their chat API was officially depreciated that spring. The story with Google is a bit more complicated, but boils down to the XMPP-supported Google Talk being supplanted by the non-XMPP-compatible Hangouts.

    And what about those Nokia chat apps? Of the three, Nimbuzz is the only one still in service, now running its own proprietary IM platform and pseudo-VoIP service. Walled gardens, it seems, are the way of the future when it comes to chat.

    Links: Disruptive Telephony, Slashdot, XMPP, ZDNet

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    by Published on 03-10-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    The important thing here is that they didn't ruin Hangouts altogether.

    I'm not even sure that Google—nor Android users, for that matter—realize what a good thing they have had in Hangouts. Though the days of proper XMPP support are long gone, there is still data portability via Google Takeout and, perhaps more importantly, clients for Android, iOS and desktop web browsers.

    You could partly blame carrier SMS charges on the rise of WhatsApp, along with technical issues hindering content shared through MMS. Whatever the case, WhatsApp is now immensely popular, leading Google to chase after it with their in-house clone called Allo. In the same way, the company is now targeting a darling of start-up culture, Slack, with a complete overhaul of the Hangouts platform.

    That platform will see two new apps, Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. Meet looks to be a more business-friendly version of Hangouts On Air, though I'm willing to bet that its biggest user demographic will continue to be podcasters. Chat will add a chatbot to the current Hangouts experience, and bring with it the ability (for example) to schedule calendar events from within the app. Unfortunately, as an enterprise product, Hangouts Chat will also offer additional functionality via paid features; put another way, the free version will be limited.

    Like the Pixel phones and Pixel-exclusive features, this also seems very un-Googley to me, and perhaps its time to wean my friends and I off of Hangouts and on to something else. What do you use for chat?

    Sources: Android Police, XDA Developers

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    by Published on 03-06-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    Google had some news of their own at Mobile World Congress last week—The Verge reports that their "AI" Assistant is rolling out to millions of Marshmallow and Nougat-powered Android phones around the world. Users in the U.S. are first in line for the upgrade, with Australia, Canada, the U.K. and Germany to follow.

    Android Central has an interesting take on the timing of the announcement:

    Samsung was never going to build it into the Galaxy S8 or any other phone it sells. Now the decision has been taken out of Samsung's hands and left up to you to opt in if you want Google Assistant.
    Okay, cool, but before we all swoon over good guy Google let's also remember that up to now it's been an exclusive feature of the company's Pixel phones, rather than being more widely available from the get-go. Same story for the Pixel Launcher, by the way, which Google is only now graciously allowing on the new Android devices from Nokia.

    You could look at this phenomenon in one of two ways, neither of which paints Google in a particularly attractive light. I see these Pixel exclusives—and the Pixel itself, for that matter—as very un-Googley, and not at all in the spirit of AOSP. On the other hand, Pixel owners might rightfully feel that they're de facto beta testers for everyone else.

    At any rate, Google's Assistant is making its way to your non-Pixel phone. Let us know if you get it!

    Sources: Android Central, The Verge

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    by Published on 02-24-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Hate to end my week here on a bummer but I've got some bad news for any Android modders reading this: CMTE, one of the standout features of CyanogenMod and the other ROMs based on it, is effectively dead.

    The news comes from a front page post on XDA, with evidence that Clark Scheff, lead developer of CMTE, has abandoned it and moved on to other things. Seeing no support for CMTE in Nougat-based ROMs, CyanogenMod Themers have likewise moved on to Substratum, based on Sony's contribution to the Android Open Source Project, RRO or Runtime Resource Overlay. I haven't tried Substratum myself, but I have written about the previous iteration of RRO, Layers, and found it to be much less elegant and intuitive than CMTE.

    CM13 themes still work fine for the Marshmallow-based ROMs that support them—like Sultan's ROM for my OnePlus 3, for example. I'm going to look into Substratum over the weekend and report back to you on it next week.

    Source: XDA

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    by Published on 02-13-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    Last week Android Authority proclaimed that OnePlus was the new Nexus. Granted, they were only talking about one device (the OnePlus One) and only one custom ROM (Lineage OS). This XDA blog post uses a broader data set—traffic on its own forums—to further the claim. When combined, the OnePlus 3 and 3T together make up the most active community on XDA.

    So for any fellow OnePlus 3/3T modders reading this, here's a quick look at four of the most popular custom ROMs available for these devices.

    FreedomOS (Nougat)

    As its name would suggest, this ROM uses the AROMA Installer to let the user choose which Google apps they want on their device during installation. AdAway and a hosts file are also included by default, along with root access via SuperSU.

    XDA Threads: OnePlus 3 / OnePlus 3T

    Lineage OS (Nougat)

    Lineage OS is the new moniker for what was once CyanogenMod, the granddaddy of all custom ROMs. As such there are current available builds for the OnePlus 3T, OnePlus 3, OnePlus X, OnePlus 2 and OnePlus One.

    XDA Threads: OnePlus 3 / OnePlus 3T

    Resurrection Remix (Marshmallow / Nougat)

    Resurrection builds on the work of CM, Omni and Slim. The standout feature of this ROM would have to be the extensive configurations menu. Note that the Marshmallow-based ROM for the OP3 seems to have been discontinued; hopefully a Nougat-based ROM like the one for the 3T will be available soon.

    XDA Threads: OnePlus 3 / OnePlus 3T

    "Sultan's ROM" - Unified CM 13.0 with custom 3.18.20 kernel (Marshmallow)

    This, as you may know, is the ROM that I'm currently running on my own OnePlus 3, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Its main selling point is stellar battery life; added bonuses include not forcing encryption and supporting my favourite CyanogenMod Theme.

    XDA Threads: OnePlus 3 / OnePlus 3T

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    by Published on 02-03-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps
    Article Preview



    On my flight home from Bermuda the WestJet app I had installed on my phone came in unexpectedly handy; I got it for the sole purpose of checking in online without a computer, but once on-board I found out the app was to also serve as my infotainment hub for the ride back to Toronto.

    It wasn't my first experience with in-flight connectivity—I can thank Icelandair last summer for that—but it was the first time I did so via an app. Here's what it was like. ...
    by Published on 01-17-2017 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    I'm very late to the game here, but I finally got around to watching the new season of Black Mirror on Netflix last night. If you've never seen Black Mirror, it's basically Twilight Zone meets the Internet. "Nosedive", the first episode of the show's third season, is set in a dystopian near-future where everyone is constantly being rated by their peers, with very real implications for the goods, services and even people they are able to access.

    If you find such a premise to be a bit far-fetched, you might be surprised to find out that a similar rating system is in use right now in mainland China.

    The Chinese government is calling it "social credit"; as The Washington Post reports, the reasons behind it are fairly pragmatic:

    At the heart of the social credit system is an attempt to control China’s vast, anarchic and poorly-regulated market economy, to punish companies selling poisoned food or phony medicine, to expose doctors taking bribes and uncover con men preying on the vulnerable.
    Here's the scary part: social credit is being expanded from businesses and professionals to the rest of the population. Enrollment in the social credit system could be mandatory as early as 2020.

    One initiative to get China's 700 million Internet users to embrace the idea is Sesame Credit, a joint venture between Alibaba, Tencent and, of course, the Chinese government. I found an excellent analysis of Sesame Credit on, of all places, a YouTube gaming channel:



    If you thought social media was already bad, gamifying obedience will surely make it much, much worse.

    Source: Washington Post

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    by Published on 01-03-2017 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    Most Android users turn to custom ROMs when their device is no longer updated by the manufacturer. I've done things a little differently, flashing a ROM on my OnePlus 3 to avoid an update. That ROM is Sultanxda's spin of CyanogenMod 13, and so far it's pretty great.

    OnePlus promised owners of its 3 and 3T models an update to Android 7 (Nougat) before the end of 2016 and, to their credit, a notification of said update appeared on my phone late last week. The only problem is, I'm not especially thrilled about Nougat—I tried the stock Android 7 ROM on my Nexus 9 tablet last September and was surprised to find that I couldn't change the hosts file with AdAway. That issue might well have been fixed by now, or it could have been a one-off problem specific to that installation; even so, I don't currently desire any of the features that Nougat has to offer.

    I could have just stuck it out with the Marshmallow version of Oxygen, which for the past six months has served me very well. But instead I took the opportunity to flash Sultan's ROM, and I'm glad that I did.

    For starters, the ROM seems somehow quicker than Oxygen OS, and Oxygen is certainly no slouch when it comes to performance. Then there's the added value of CyanogenMod extras—a file manager, screen recorder, audio equalizer... and what I've missed more than anything else: The CyanogenMod Theme Engine. Oxygen's dark mode is better than nothing, but it's no match for the ability to theme select apps and your system's UI. To get you started, the ROM includes Cyanogen's HexoLibre Theme, pictured above.

    There are, of course, a few minor headaches associated with the installation of any custom ROM. You'll have to flash a Google apps package separately, which will include at least a few AOSP packages that you're likely to never use (they can at least be "frozen" with Titanium Backup). In the case of Sultan's ROM I also had to flash a custom firmware before the actual ROM would take.

    Even with all that, plus the added annoyance of having to reset two Android Wear smartwatches, it was worth it. I now hold in my hands what feels like an entirely new phone, along with a reminder of just how powerful and flexible Android can be. If you're interested in this excellent custom ROM, links from XDA are immediately below.

    Links: Sultan's ROM for the OnePlus 3 / OnePlus 3T

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    by Published on 12-21-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    Here's Michael Fisher with his video review of Samsung's Gear S3, Frontier Edition. If my YouTube feed is any indication, this is the most sought-after smartwatch of the holiday season. It's also a great time to buy, with both Amazon.com and Best Buy Canada currently selling the Frontier Edition of the watch at discounted prices—$299 USD and $400 CAD, respectively.

    A standout among the Gear S3's tricks (and there are a lot of them) is the ability to tap and pay with your watch, even when paired to a non-Samsung phone and even at an olde-tyme magnetic stripe terminal. And here's where I've got some bad news for you: If you're in Canada and want to use a Gear S3 for wrist-based payments you'd better have one of the select few CIBC credit cards currently supported by Samsung Pay.

    Samsung phone owners with root will already know that Samsung Pay doesn't work anywhere—at least that's what I gather from this Change.org petition. What's not so clear to me is whether or not Samsung Pay will work on a Samsung watch that's paired to a rooted phone; I guess it would depend if the Samsung Gear Manager app has the ability to detect root.

    Are there any Gear owners with rooted phones able to weigh in on this?

    Links: Amazon.com, Best Buy Canada, Change.org, Samsung Canada

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    by Published on 12-19-2016 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    If you've about twenty minutes to spare and can stand subtitles, this documentary by a Dutch film school student is very much worth your time.

    It's called Find my Phone but the star of the story is not, as you might think, the built-in phone-finding apps on Android and iOS—but rather a more stealthy third-party root app for Android called Cerberus, which I've written about on these forums before. With the app installed, the filmmaker was able to spy on a phone theif for a full two weeks, remotely capturing photos, video, SMS Messages, and even topping up phone credits for fear of the device going offline.

    Two things you can learn from watching the documentary: (1) It can be comically difficult to have your phone stolen in The Netherlands—the film student's rooted HTC One doesn't get nicked until six-and-a-half minutes in. And (2) the kid makes the very bad decision to seek out the phone thief in person—and immediately regrets it.

    If nothing else, Find my Phone is an effective endorsement for Cerberus, which you can download from the Play Store here. For redditors' thoughts on the film, see the source link directly below.

    Source: reddit

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