Use Android Auto without the Radio

If you’re an Android you can now use Android Auto directly from your Phone

I remember back when I was using a Nexus One and reviewed for Just Another Mobile Monday. Unfortunately, the site and the review have been taken down. However, you can see info about the review in the link, above. The point is that back in the day, Android Car mode allowed you, often with a special dock, to access an automobile UI for Android. This was really the precedent to Android Auto. In the years since, that mode has largely been written OUT of the core OS.

Thankfully now, however, with the inclusion of a special app, you can get access to “car mode” again.

Android Auto is now available as a special app for your compatible Android phone. This allows you to access all the features of Android Auto without having a special, compatible touch screen radio in your vehicle. You simply access the functionality right on your phone. The function is similar to Android Wear. This is based on the idea of showing the user what they want to see, before they’ve actually asked for it.

The app includes most, if not all of the features of Android Auto. You can use navigation, listen to audio, make calls, etc. Voice interaction is key, so make sure you have that enabled, as interacting with a touch screen while driving isn’t always legal in all areas of the country.

The Android Auto app is available now, and requires Android 5.0 Lollipop or greater.

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Android 7 – Nougat Coming to HTC Flagships

If you have a top of the line HTC phone, you might want to take a look at this…

nougatGoogle recently announced the release of Android 7, code named Nougat, to the general public. If you have a recent Nexus device, going back to the Nexus 9, you can download and install Nougat right now. Google is supporting the following Nexus devices under Android 7 Nougat:

  • Nexus 6P
  • Nexus 6
  • Nexus 5X
  • Nexus 9
  • Nexus 9 LTE
  • Nexus Player

These are also the devices that are going to run PURE Android… meaning that you’re going to get Android without a lot of the crapware that comes from other device manufacturers or carriers. If however, you don’t have a Nexus device, and like me, you have HTC Android devices, take heart. Well… sort of…

HTC has pledged support for Android Nougat, but as of this writing, Nougat is only pledged for specific phones:

According to RedmondPie, HTC is going to release it for a “slew of other unspecified devices;” but God knows what that means.

If you’re wondering when you can get Android 7.0 for your supported HTC flagship phone, according to Android Authority, if HTC holds to the same schedule as it did with Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can expect to see Nougat arriving on supported devices about two months from now (or sometime during October 2016).

If you have a supported Nexus device and have already installed Android 7.0 on it, I’d love to hear from you. Give me all the details on how the upgrade went for you. If you plan to upgrade your supported HTC device or supported Sony, LG, Samsung, etc. device to Android 7.0, I’d love to hear from you as well. The best way to do this is to leave a comment in the Discussion area, below. I will get back to you ASAP.

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Opening up the HTC 10

HTC sent me an HTC 10 to review…

HTC-10

Introduction

I love mobile devices. For me, when it comes to electronics, smartphones and mobile devices are some of my most favorite things. So, you can imagine my delight when HTC contacted me two weeks ago and offered to send me an HTC 10 to review.

I was wanting to do a video unboxing of the device, but honestly… there’s little to nothing to unbox.  The device comes in a white, square shaped, box with rounded corners. It contains the device, a SIM tray ejector tool, a wall wart and a USB-C sync/ charging cable.  There’s also some minor regulatory documentation booklets that are included by law, but other than glancing at them to see exactly WHAT they are and maybe to see which side of the device the SIM tray is on, you’re never going to look at them… EVER.

I’m working on a full review for Soft32.  I’ve been in the device since late Sunday 2016-05-22, Chicago time. I’ve got a few first impressions that I’d like to pass on to everyone, without going into too much detail at this point. I’d like to save it for the review that I hope to file before the end of May 2016.

Hardware

When you open the device, the first thing you think is, “iPhone,” or “Samsung.” The device really looks like an iPhone wanna be.  That’s too bad, from a form factor perspective; but it’s not all doom and gloom or any kind of “fanboy” put down.  While the device REALLY does look like an iPhone, the hardware is pretty awesome.

I’ve got the device running around nekked right now; and that’s a bit of a shame. The device itself is truly impressive looking; but as I said, the contents of the box are a bit Spartan. Again, you get the device, the AC wall wart and the USB-C cable.  Clearly missing in my opinion, is a basic case, and a set of ear buds.

NOTE: I shot out an email to HTC on this while I was writing this inquiring about both the HTC Ice View case and the missing earbuds.  HTC is partnering with JBL on a set of exclusive earbuds for the HTC 10.  HTC will be offering them in a bundle package that will be “coming soon” to HTC.com. What I received from HTC was due to this as well as “carrier agreements.”

If you get your HTC 10 now, that’s all you’ll get. Starting in late June, HTC will ship the HTC 10 with JBL earbuds.  The bundle that I mentioned, will be an exclusive offer available only at HTC.com.

Battery

The battery life on the HTC 10 is simply amazing.  The device has 27 hours of talk time and up to 19 days of standby time.  The device can go from zero (0) to 50% charged in as little as 30 minutes with its Quick Charge 3.0 charging system.

I’m still trying to see how well the device lasts without a charge. During the week, I often listen to podcasts and make calls while driving, with my smartphone connected to my Pioneer AVH-4800BS in dash DVD receiver.

As such, battery life on my phone doesn’t usually drop below 60% by the time I leave the office during the day.  However, the weekends are a much different story. My phone usually ends up spending most of the time in my jacket, without being connected to power. We’ll see how well the battery holds up over this American Holiday three day weekend.

UPDATE: As of this writing, I last charged my HTC 10 on Friday 2016-05-27 at 6pm.  It’s been off the charger ever since, fully active and with moderate use – gaming, email, calls, etc. – as of 3pm 2016-05-30, I got my first low battery warning at 15%.  This battery is amazing and you should have no issues with the batter lasting you when using this device.  Normal use should have you no lower than 65% at the end of a normal day.

Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow

Suffice it to say I wasn’t too impressed with Marshmallow when I covered it last.  That hasn’t changed much. I am finding that Marshmallow – perhaps Android in and of itself – gets in its own way.  Half of the stuff that I’m trying to do with it seem simple enough, but it just doesn’t seem like it wants to work.

It may not be the mobile OS for me… and I’ll have more on this in the full review.

Connectivity

As with any smartphone, connectivity is the key to making any mobile device a success. Today’s mobile devices have a number of different radios in them, and the radios in the HTC 10 have a few quirks that you will need to be aware of.  While I hope to have more information on this in the full review, there are a few things that I need to cover here.

BT performance & connections

If there’s one thing that I really hate about Bluetooth is that its inherently unreliable.  In fact, more often than not for me, it doesn’t work right.

Now, while that is a general statement, it does hold true for the HTC 10.  All of the Bluetooth accessories that I have used with the HTC 10 do not perform as I, or anyone, would expect them to, as you’ll see below.

Olio Model One

This is the one device that seemed to work better with the HTC 10 than with my iPhone 6.  The watch seemed to connect with much form consistency and accuracy with the HTC 10. It connected with much more consistency and accuracy to the HTC 10 than it ever did with my iPhone 6.  However, I’m finding an issue with notifications that I hope to have more on in the full review.

Pioneer AVH-X4800BS
This car accessory is an issue.

Not only does it connect via Bluetooth for phone calls and the like, but it also connects via USB.  Both have issues.  The HTC 10 itself often doesn’t connect to the radio consistently without manual intervention.

Android phones also don’t automatically make any of their multimedia content available again, without manual intervention. Worse yet, this manual intervention must be done every time you connect the device to the radio…and that’s a pain in the butt.

USB Type C

This was an interesting choice for the HTC 10. While it does offer higher speed synching than nearly every other serial connectivity out there, USB C, like all other serial connections, it has its roots in RS-232, and in a technology that is well over 40 years old. As such, it’s not as reliable as you might think, or want it to be, especially when it comes to my car radio.  Yes, it charges well, and audio does play through the cable, but not as well as you might think or hope.  In fact, it doesn’t play through the cable consistently at all; and then, it doesn’t resume audio where you left off. It starts everything from the beginning again – beginning of the song that last played, beginning of the podcast, etc.

The biggest issue I have with USB C is that now, I have to get new cables to go everywhere I have and need cables – my home office, work, the car, and any other place I need to charge.  Type C cables are new, and are, unfortunately, somewhat expensive… and they will be until they become ubiquitous.

Call Quality

Call quality both via Bluetooth and the handset are good… much better than I would have hoped.  However, I’ve used HTC devices on and off for over 12 years. I have yet to run into one of their devices that doesn’t do well with call quality. The HTC 10 is no exception here.

Conclusion

So far, the HTC 10 is a decent device.  It’s got some state of the art hardware that includes one of the best batteries and battery technology that I’ve seen in the history of smartphones. It’s also running the latest version of Android Marshmallow, version 6.0.1.

It’s got some connectivity issues to get over, but this is one heck of a smartphone. If Android is your mobile OS of choice, and you’re in the market for a new device, then you really need to stop and give this one a serious look.

Over the next few weeks, I will be putting the HTC 10 through its paces. I’ll have a full review with pictures and additional information. I may also have some extra articles on the HTC 10 during this time as well.

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