• Apps

    by Published on 04-13-2018 06:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    If you needed another reason to be angry at your Android device maker, here it is. According to a new feature in WIRED some OEMs have been flat-out lying about their security patches. The table above is a summary of missing patches found in Android builds across thirteen manufactures. Google and Samsung, as one would hope, are fairly honest; on the other end is TCL and ZTE, each with more than four patches missing from their "updated" devices.

    For the past two years the German security firm SRL have been reverse-engineering software on hundreds on Android phones, investigating what they call "patch gap". The research will be presented today at a conference in Amsterdam.

    With so many Android hardware makers there's no single reason for missing security patches. Sometimes it's an honest mistake and, to quote someone from SRL, sometimes not so much:

    "Sometimes these guys just change the date without installing any patches. Probably for marketing reasons, they just set the patch level to almost an arbitrary date, whatever looks best."
    Whenever a security firm presents bad news like this there's often a solution being peddled to address it. And sure enough, SRL has SnoopStitch, which runs a local test on your device and supposedly informs you of any missing patches. I tried it on my OnePlus phone but the results were inconclusive, possibly because I'm on a beta channel of the software for that device.

    Read more about SRL and patch gap at the links directly below.

    Source: WIRED via XDA

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    by Published on 04-06-2018 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Commentary and Analysis,
    3. Apps



    There's already mounting evidence that we've reached peak smartphone growth—see Exhibit A here and Exhibit B here; now we have our first indication that smartphone app growth has also peaked. The analytics company appfigures makes its case in this chart:



    According to their research, the number of titles in Apple's App Store declined for the first time in 2017. So how do you explain the continuing growth of Google's Android equivalent? Well, there's a chart for that, too:



    As most Android users already know, the majority of apps are developed for iOS first, then ported to Android later. So while the number of titles published in Google Play saw continued growth last year, a similar contraction is likely to occur at some point.

    What does all this mean? Less apps, obviously, but hopefully better ones.

    Source: appfigures via Android Police, TechCrunch

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    by Published on 04-04-2018 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    You may have heard that the latest update to Instagram will remove its companion app for WatchOS. If you read the same 9to5Mac story that I did then you'll also know that Amazon, eBay, Google Maps, Slack and Whole Foods have already abandoned the Apple Watch.

    And it's not a big deal. At least, I don't think so.

    There are two reasons why this is happening. The first is pragmatic—in the case of Instagram, continued support for WatchOS would require a rewrite of the software using a newer SDK. Instagram likely decided that it wouldn't be worth the effort, which brings us to reason number two: Just because you're wearing a small computer on your wrist doesn't mean it should be used like a computer on your wrist. I can't see how swiping through tiny thumbnails of your Instagram feed would be in any way better than using a full-sized iPhone. And using a watch to make an Amazon purchase or to put an item up for auction on eBay sounds like a terrible experience.

    Presumably users will still get notifications for these abandoned apps through WatchOS itself. I personally don't see this as any kind of crisis—rather the opposite, a healthy culling of the herd. After all, not every app on your phone needs to be duplicated on your wrist.

    Source: 9to5Mac

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    by Published on 04-02-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Apps



    Just before Easter weekend Under Armour, Inc. announced that user data from its MyFitnessPal service had been compromised. Sometime in February an unauthorized party acquired data associated with some 150 million user accounts. The stolen data includes user names, email addresses and hashed passwords, but thankfully does not include payment card data.

    This breach is especially troubling for a number of reasons. One is, of course, the number of users affected by it. Another cause for concern is that Under Armour doesn't seem to know how the data was stolen. Finally, MyFitnessPal is a bit unique in that it acts as an aggregator for other fitness apps and tracking devices associated with them. So it's conceivable that a user's location history, tied to their email address, might also have been compromised.

    Under Armour is urging users to change their passwords—on MyFitnessPal as well as any other accounts that use the same email/password combination—and to be especially wary of any suspicious emails seeking to harvest even more personal information.

    Sources: MyFitnessPal, Reuters via Android Police

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    by Published on 03-27-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Apps



    As Ars Technica reports, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal a Facebook user in New Zealand decided to download and inspect their personal data archive. This person was shocked to find about two years' worth of phone call metadata, where no explicit access to that data was granted. Ars has confirmed that this personal information, along with metadata for SMS and MMS, is showing up in the archives for other Facebook users as well. The information includes names, phone numbers plus times and lengths of phone calls.

    You may have guessed that this is all about app permissions, and you'd be right. Since Android Marshmallow (v6.0) app permissions have been opt-in—meaning that before the Facebook app can help itself to your contact list you have to explicitly allow it via a pop-up toggle. Before Marshmallow the only means of granular control for such permissions were (as I recall) Privacy Guard for CyanogenMod and LBE Privacy Guard for MIUI. Even worse, granting Facebook access to your contacts in Android Jelly Bean (v4.1) and earlier automatically gave the app access to your call and message logs as well.

    Even if you had one of the aforementioned privacy guards in place, or if you never used the Facebook app at all, it's still very possible that your personal information was harvested from the device of someone you know. So whether you use it or not, Facebook very likely knows exactly who you are.

    Source: Ars Technica

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    by Published on 03-23-2018 08:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    What we're looking at here is my first-ever encounter with Bitmoji, attached to a text message sent from my sister-in-law, in answer to the question: "When are you and the kids free for lunch?"

    A few minutes later after my cringing had subsided, I started to wonder if my sis had paid some fledgling artist to design a bunch of custom avatars for her. In addition to being a full-time mom she runs a seasonal business on the side, and could easily write off such an expense as necessary for her "brand". But I couldn't have been more wrong.

    Bitmoji, it seems, is only new to me. Born of Bitstrips, a Toronto-based startup bent on democratizing the means of production for comic strips, Bitmoji itself began as a spin-off that very quickly eclipsed its forebear in downloads and actual use. Snap, Inc. acquired all of the company's assets in 2016; soon afterwards the comic strip creator was shut down, but Bitmoji remained as a standalone app for Android and iOS.

    Based on my own knee-jerk reaction I don't think I'm Bitmoji's target market; in fact, soon after my first encounter with one I was Googling results for "Bitmoji sucks". Curiously, one of the top results was this very complimentary article in Slate:

    90 percent of Bitmoji sharing happens in private spaces—text messages, email, group chats. A pair of texting partners can mirror the exact facial expression back at one another, their lips turning up to form the same wry smile, their cheeks blushing a matching hue [...] It’s difficult to express unabashed excitement, genuine affection, or emotional vulnerability in the presence of another human being. Why not let cartoon you do it instead?
    In investigating the phenomenon further I found that a close friend had an entire gallery of Bitmoji, sent to him daily by his elderly mother. Each of them was a small variation on the general theme of "I love you"—in a phone call the incessant repetition of that same message over and over again would surely make one's eyes roll, but I have to admit that abstracted into a customized emoji it was kind of sweet. Or perhaps it was that my friend had saved them all.

    Anyway, my own research would suggest that Bitmoji can be enjoyed (or ridiculed) by all, but seems to be mostly sent from moms. Agree/disagree?

    Links: Bitmoji, Bitstrips on Wikipedia, Slate

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    by Published on 03-21-2018 08:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Commentary and Analysis,
    4. Apps



    It's been almost a week since Google officially rebranded Android Wear to Wear OS, and tech blogs are unimpressed. Today I'll highlight two recent editorials on the subject, one with helpful but misguided suggestions for Google, and the other with some shade-throwing that, quite by accident, pretty much nails what I believe to be Mountain View's master plan.

    Android Central: Android Wear needs way more than just a Wear OS rebrand

    AC's editorial has two recommendations for Google: overhaul Google Fit and make a Pixel watch.

    While it's probably true that Google Fit is somewhat lacking for the hardcore fitness enthusiast, the article conveniently ignores the existence of third-party apps like Endomondo, Runkeeper, Strava and many more—all of which work with Wear OS. Google Fit is perfectly fine for the fitness dilettante, like myself.

    As for a Pixel watch, that would be almost certainly be a gift from the heavens for Pixel zealots, and of no consequence to the wider addressable audience for wearables. Remember that Nokia-powered Android phones, barely available in North America, outsold their Pixel counterparts last year. Would a Pixel-branded smartwatch do any better? I don't see how.

    Gizmodo: Google's Smartwatch Program Is a Mess, and a Name Change Won't Fix That

    Gizmodo's anti-Ware OS screed spends a lot of time looking down its nose at Fossil Group and other traditional watch OEMs:

    Almost all of the big Android Wear device makers such as Motorola, LG, and Asus have given up on the platform, leaving Android Wear in the hands of fashion brands that neither have the vision nor the technological know-how to advance smartwatch tech.
    Well, there's certainly one thing that fashion brands know how to do: design a timepiece that doesn't look like a gadget. Looks are entirely subjective, of course, but put any of the aforementioned Asus, LG or Motorola smartwatches beside anything from a traditional watchmaker and you can immediately see which one was designed by an electronics company.

    I've said this before and I'll say it here again: the future of Wear OS is under the hood of a Casio, Fossil, TAG Heuer or whatever your favourite watch brand happens to be. For the present, it arms these watchmakers with an alternative to the Apple Watch; for the future, it gives every watch-wearer to ability to see notifications on their wrist. The Wear OS rebranding is ultimately just marketing, and that's fine with me. It's a less-geeky way to pitch the tech under that pretty watchface.

    Links: Android Central, Gizmodo, Wareable

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    by Published on 03-19-2018 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    webOS, Palm, Inc.'s prescient gesture-based smartphone operating system that made its way to an HP tablet and on to an untold number of LG smart TVs, has been open-sourced. For the second time. The first open source edition came from HP itself back in 2011, and according to Wikipedia went nowhere fast. Cut to 2018 and LG, the current custodian of webOS, has just announced an open source edition of their own. Hopefully this community build has received an update or two since the last one.

    My own personal skepticism aside, the world can always use more open source software, so I honestly don't see this as bad news. But why webOS specifically, and why now? Here's the killer quote from LG's CTO:

    “webOS has come a long way [...] and is now a mature and stable platform ready to move beyond TVs.”
    Somebody needs to give LG a lesson in recent history, I think.

    Source: The Verge (1) (2)

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    by Published on 03-16-2018 08:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    ... And potentially led her into another one. But we'll get to that later.

    "Beautiful prison" is how The Verge's Nilay Patel describes Apple's iMessage. It's fairly accurate; for iPhone users Apple's default messaging app is as robust and feature-rich as any other platform—so much so that there's little reason to look beyond it. Even worse, those poor unenlightened souls who choose Android are treated as second-class citizens on iOS.

    Don't believe me? Consider my 18 year-old niece, as loyal to Apple as any other first world millennial, who has on at least one occasion condescendingly referred to her uncle as a "green text".

    She's currently taking her gap year in southeast Asia, and recently finished her first leg in Japan. While in Tokyo and Kyoto we stayed in touch via SMS—her uncle has been to that part of the world more than once, after all—but lost contact when she got a local SIM card; her iMessage seamlessly switched to a data connection but me, the green text, got locked out.

    And then something unexpected happened: she texted me from Taipei and asked if we could keep in touch using some other messaging platform. Now I hardly think of myself as the most interesting man in the world, but you cannot deny that it's a pretty big deal for a teenage Apple fangirl to step outside the protective cocoon of iMessage just to keep in touch with little ol' me.

    Unfortunately I seem to have led her straight into another proprietary messaging silo, otherwise known as WhatsApp. Despite being another walled garden I think it's the solution that makes the most sense for her current situation; in fact, all the 21st century digital nomads that I know depend on it for communications across borders and carriers. So I'm taking this one as a victory, if only for getting an iPhone user to see value in something outside the confines of Apple's beautiful prison.

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    by Published on 03-15-2018 09:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Reviews and Hands-on,
    3. Apps



    Spoiler alert: Spotify is the clear winner, at least for me.

    I suspect that hardcore music enthusiasts who use Android will have already chosen their music streaming service; for anyone else thinking about which one is worth paying for, here's a summary of my own experiences with three popular apps.

    Amazon Music
    If you have Amazon Prime then you've also got Amazon Prime Music, the ad-free version of their streaming service. Their music catalogue seems fine, and the Android app can also cast to Android TV. Unfortunately their web player requires Flash, which tends to slow down my already taxed Chrome browser.

    Google Play Music
    If you want PC playback of your streaming music then Google is your obvious choice, with a web player that's optimized for Chrome and an Android app that effortlessly casts to Android TV. And if you wanted an ad-free YouTube experience then the paid version of Google Play Music would also be the obvious choice, as a subscription also includes YouTube Red. Unfortunately that perk is not yet available to those of us living in Canada.

    Nonetheless, I took a 30-day free trial of Google Play Music, in the hopes that YouTube Red would one day make its way here. That would have been the end of the story, but my girlfriend suggested that I try out some other services before committing to GPM. That turned out to be some excellent advice.

    Spotify
    With some 70 million registered users Spotify is far and away the world's most popular music streaming service. They also offer a 30-day free trial, so I signed up with the intention of doing some A/B testing between Spotify and Google Play Music, and see if I could stump either one with a random music request.

    The track that tipped the scales in favour of Spotify was this very random Japanese single that showed up in the girlfriend's YouTube feed. I'm guessing that it translates to The Futon Song...?



    Bizarre, right? Anyway, Spotify has this track; Google Play Music does not. Advantage: Spotify. And then I discovered that Spotify also has native clients for Debian, Linux Mint and Ubuntu. Game over; Spotify wins.

    Hopefully this little write-up will be of use to someone who's not yet decided on an Android music streaming service. Feel free to add your own insights and/or opinions directly below.

    Play Store links: Amazon Music, Google Play Music, Spotify

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    by Published on 03-13-2018 06:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. News,
    3. Apps



    It's what I did, anyway.

    I found out via email yesterday that I was one of the 815,000 Canadian Uber users (along with some 57 million Americans) whose personal data was compromised. Here's an excerpt from the email I received:

    In November 2016, Uber became aware that two individuals outside the company had accessed certain user data stored with a third-party service [...] The files that were accessed contained user information that we used to operate our services, and for nearly all users this included name, email address, and mobile phone number used on your account before 2016. Our outside forensics experts have seen no indication that trip location history, dates of birth, or payment information were accessed or downloaded.
    Personally I'd have preferred to have my credit card number leaked rather than my email address and phone number, for the simple reason that my bank has much stronger protections in place against fraud than either my email provider or wireless carrier. Maybe that's just me.

    What really stinks about this whole mess is that Uber didn't even want to notify affected Canadians at all. Mobile Syrup reports that the ride-sharing company was ultimately compelled to do so because of a February 28th ruling by the Alberta Privacy Commissioner. Uber plans to appeal that ruling, but there is a separate investigation being conducted by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

    I don't expect every Uber user reading this to have the luxury of being able to delete their account; as a driver or passenger you might depend on the service. Fortunately I don't, but more importantly I no longer trust this company with my personal data.

    Links: Mobile Syrup

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    by Published on 03-12-2018 10:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    With their users' credit cards already on file via the Google Play Store and Google Pay app, it only makes sense for the engineers in Mountain View to add peer-to-peer payment functionality to Android as well. But instead of doing this through a dedicated portal, they've chosen to implement this feature directly into the OS, through their own first-party software.

    Last November Android Police reported on a new version of Android Messages, Google's SMS app. Among other things, the update included the ability to send and receive money through Google Wallet (since rebranded to Google Pay). Now, again according to AP, Google has built a redundancy of this feature directly into their contacts app. So far the feature is live for exactly one reported user in Canada, and unfortunately it's not me.

    Using Google Pay, like PayPal , PayTM, or any other smartphone-based payments app of course requires that both the sender and recipient are registered users of the specific app in question. And while I can appreciate the convenience of these apps for sending money to family and friends overseas, for P2P payments within my own country I'm almost certainly going to go with an email transfer directly from my bank.

    How about you?

    Sources Android Police (1) (2)

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    by Published on 02-21-2018 07:45 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    In an unexpected blog post late last week the Rebble team kind of blew my mind.

    Based on my previous research I had thought that the project was to be a replacement for Pebble OS, the operating system on Pebble hardware. This never really made sense to me; full ROMs for each Pebble model are freely available for download, and it seems to me that what Pebblers are going to be missing most when Fitbit shuts down the Pebble servers this summer are the services that they currently provide to users—voice dictation and weather complications are the two that immediately spring to mind.

    What Rebble is actually planning is a complete end-to-end solution, including an app and watch face store, a phone app for Android and iOS and (eventually) a new operating system for the watch. Here's the TL;DR from their blog post:

    We will be providing replacements for almost all Pebble services;
    Most things will work just fine when you switch to the Rebble servers;
    We will have a Patreon page for you to donate to keep the services running;
    We will require that you pledge around a couple of dollars a month for weather and dictation. All other services will remain free;
    Fitbit are our friends.
    You can read the finer details of Rebble's grand plan at the first link below, and the ensuing discussion from the Pebble reddit community at the second. Comments posted there so far suggest that Pebblers are happy to pay for continuing access to voice dictation and weather; if Rebble can get everything up and running in time then that June 30th deadline might not turn out to be such a big deal after all.

    Source: Rebble via r/pebble

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    by Published on 02-15-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    There is a new entry in the navigation menu of the Facebook app for smartphones and tablets; clicking through on "Protect" will redirect to a listing for an app called Onavo Protect—which, at first glance, appears to be a VPN client. Except that it's not. Rather than protecting your data from third parties the app will phone home to Facebook and report on what you're doing on your device... whether you're currently using the Facebook app or not.

    The proof that this title is basically corporate spyware is hiding in plain sight on its App Store listing:

    To provide this layer of protection, Onavo uses a VPN to establish a secure connection to direct all of your network communications through Onavo’s servers. As part of this process, Onavo collects your mobile data traffic. This helps us improve and operate the Onavo service by analyzing your use of websites, apps and data. Because we’re part of Facebook, we also use this info to improve Facebook products and services, gain insights into the products and services people value, and build better experiences.
    As TechCrunch reports, the Onavo app has already been used to spy on SnapChat users, and to copy that platform's popular features for Instagram, its Facebook-owned competitor.

    Clawing back at least some of your privacy is as easy as uninstalling Onavo Protect—or better yet, never installing it in the first place.

    Sources: 9to5Mac via TechCrunch

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    by Published on 02-13-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    There's no custom Android ROM out there that's more dependable than LineageOS. It's actually the only custom ROM that I know of with a working built-in updater—flash it once (with the optional root binary) and you can take OTA updates as they come without ever having to flash a full ROM again.

    Over the weekend the first page in a Public Charter was published on the LineageOS github, detailing the requirements for device support. The list is long, exhaustive and impressive. Here are a few highlights:

    Camera - all devices with Camera supported in their stock OS MUST support Camera, in both front facing and rear camera configurations.

    CVE - devices MUST support CVE patches for “high profile” exploits and vulnerabilities (if the media is reporting on it, then we must have it patched).

    Encryption - all devices MUST support software encryption.

    Root (su) - all devices MUST NOT ship with su included. All devices MUST support su installation via LineageOS provided ‘Extras’ download.

    Wiki - all devices with a shipping build of LineageOS MUST have a wiki page with valid installation instructions.
    I think it's pretty great to see a custom ROM so dedicated to user experience and transparency. You can read more about the charter—and see the actual document for yourself—at the links immediately below.

    Source: LineageOS Charter via XDA

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    by Published on 02-12-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    While out for dinner with my brother and his family over the weekend I got to play HQ Trivia for the first time. To call HQ a phenomenon is no lie—at 8:55pm our party of seven looked like any other large group in a busy uptown restaurant; five minutes later every iPhone at the table was connected to a headset and playing the game.

    Plus one Android phone.

    If you've been to a trivia night at your local pub then you've already got the gist of HQ—just imagine that experience scaled up to reach a global (English-speaking) audience through their smartphones. What pulls it all together is an entertaining video-streamed host, powered by the same technology behind Vine, Twitter's failed attempt at a new six-second video format.

    HQ's official Android app had, until very recently, been listed in the Play Store as an unreleased beta. I'd love to tell you that you'll get the exact same experience on Android as on iOS, but on my OnePlus 5T the 1.0 release still looks very much like a beta product. The gameplay is the same but the video streaming quality is just bad.

    I guess it's much harder for software developers to fully support the multitude of screen sizes and resolutions available on the Android platform. In the case of HQ trivia it certainly doesn't seem like a lot of effort was put in. If you've yet to experience the game my advice would be to check it out on somebody's iPhone. HQ doesn't care about us.

    If you still want to be disappointed, here's the link: HQ Trivia on Google Play

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    by Published on 01-30-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    Something rather interesting is happening in Canada's westernmost province. While Uber and Lyft await the green light to begin operations there, a slew of homegrown alternatives has popped up from seemingly out of nowhere to fill in the gap. I've read mention of no less than eight available services—four of which I was able to find sites and app store listings for:

    GoKabu - (uses WeChat) / website
    Longmao Club - Android / iOS / website
    Poparide - Android / iOS / website
    Udi Kuaiche - Android / iOS / website

    And another four for which I could not:

    AO Rideshare
    Dingdang Carpool
    RaccoonGo
    U Drop

    As you can probably surmise, at least half of these apps cater to the local Chinese-Canadian community. GoKabu was the one that, in a Global News report, was accused of refusing to accept non-Chinese fares; the $1,150 CAD fines for drivers accepting rides using these currently illegal apps might have something to do with that.

    Has anyone here used one of these BC ridesharing apps?

    Links: Global News, Mobile Syrup

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    by Published on 01-24-2018 08:15 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Devices,
    3. Apps



    It's been over a year since Pebble went bust. Fitbit, who bought the company's technical assets and absorbed some of the team, pledged to keep Pebble's servers running until the end of 2017. We're now well past that expiry date, and the day may soon come when Fitbit decides to turn out the lights, leaving users with no access to weather data, voice replies or an app store.

    At that point Pebblers will have three options: make do with what they've got, regain the ability to sideload apps and watchfaces with GadgetBridge or install Rebble, an entirely new OS, on their watch.

    Progress on Rebble has been slow—as you can probably imagine, building a custom smartwatch operating system from scratch is no small feat. But this week the team posted a rare update, one that immediately shot to the top of r/Pebble. Here's a summary of their progress thus far:

    • New splash screen (see above);
    • Rebble can now be run in an emulator;
    • Bluetooth is now working;
    • Preliminary support for Pebble apps and watchfaces.

    With such slow progress you might be asking, why even bother? The Rebble team has an answer for that:

    It’s a fact that no new Pebble hardware is being produced, ever. It’s been over a year since Pebble closed its doors and as such there are a finite number of devices out there, and their ZEBRA connectors are going wonky, their cases are suddenly ingressing water, and their batteries are getting one charge closer to failure every 4-10 days. But while Pebble hardware may remain frozen in time, technology marches on. New versions of Android and iOS continue to be released, along with new hardware, and with every major release we all cringe and utter “will our Pebbles still work”? Well that’s part of why we’re building new apps, appstores and firmware - but another exciting reason for creating our own open-source, FreeRTOS-based OS is that it opens the door to other Pebble fans or even large smartwatch manufacturers in Shenzhen to build their own new hardware in the spirit of Pebble/Rebble!
    While GadgetBridge will probably remain my go-to solution, what this community of developers is trying to accomplish is certainly admirable. If you want to get involved see the first link directly below.

    Source: Rebble via r/Pebble

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    by Published on 01-19-2018 07:30 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Apps



    This past Christmas I spent pretty much the entire morning trying to fix the girlfriend's OnePlus 5. Its native version of Android, OxygenOS, had just gotten a big upgrade to Oreo, and as we were shortly going on holiday I thought it prudent to get her phone up to date before we left.

    Bad idea.

    The upgrade itself wasn't the problem; what stymied me for several hours was applying root and getting a custom recovery to stick. I still couldn't tell you what the technical issue was, but I've a sneaking suspicion that it's the result of Google's increasing hostility towards Android modders.

    I knew that the only real solution would be a regression to Android Nougat, but then my better half would have to deal with the constant nagging notification for an update that would once again break superuser access to her phone.

    And here's where FreedomOS comes in. It's a custom ROM built on the Nougat version of Oxygen, but with a modified kernel and additional options. Chief among them is the Aroma installer; it gives you the choice of flashing Magisk or SuperSU for root, and also allows you to debloat your device by skipping over any Google or OnePlus apps you don't want. It's definitely not for noobs, though, as its possible flash a broken system image onto your phone if you don't pay attention to what you're doing.

    The lead developer recently returned from a holiday break, so an Oreo version of FOS—for the OnePlus 5, at least—could be on the way. In the meantime, I've been impressed enough with the Nougat version that I flashed the 5T version onto my own phone. You can check out the ROM for yourself at the XDA links immediately below.

    Links: FreedomOS for OnePlus 5 / OnePlus 5T on XDA

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    by Published on 01-18-2018 07:00 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Carriers,
    3. Apps



    Researchers at Northeastern University have developed an app that can tell you which services are being throttled by your wireless carrier, and by how much. It's called Wehe, and it's only available for Android. Find out why below.

    How it works is fairly ingenious. Using YouTube as an example, Wehe spoofs that app for a random download, then repeats the download but with different metadata, fooling your carrier into thinking it's from another source. By comparing speeds you can determine if and by how much your YouTube videos are being throttled. In the case of BingeOn it's been shown that T-Mobile indiscriminately throttles all video to 1.5 Mbps, and with YouTube specifically limits video resolution to 360p.

    Wehe is currently able to test the following services via their apps:

    Amazon
    NBC Sports
    Netflix
    Skype
    Spotify
    Vimeo
    YouTube

    And what about iOS? Well, according to Motherboard Apple won't approve it. An App Store reviewer told the developers that Wehe "has no direct benefits to the user". Because carriers, I guess...

    Hopefully Wehe will find its way to APKMirror and/or F-Droid should Google ever come to a similar determination; in the meantime you can grab it on Google Play at the first link directly below.

    Links: Google Play, Motherboard, Wehe

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