Rooting the HTC 10

If you truly want to make it your own…

Introduction
There are legitimate reasons for rooting an Android device. They aren’t all about custom ROM’s and the like. And since its now LEGAL to jailbreak devices, some of the sexy and taboo has gone out of the game and for some – me included – its now often more hassle than its worth.

However, there are often some good reasons for rooting an Android device that go beyond the desire for a custom ROM. Some of those reasons speak to the need for a backup app like, Titanium Backup. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve jail broken or rooted any kind of smartphone. I wanted to give it a try…

Improved Rooting Process
To be very blunt, I’ve always owned either a Nexus or HTC Android Phone. My daughter had a brief dalliance with the Samsung Galaxy (1) smartphone a number of years back, but that proved to be a bit challenging when it came to customization. It also cured her of any interest in Android as I recall, as a matter of fact.

Rooting and customizing an Android device is NOT an easy process. However, in the seven or so years that I’ve been looking into it, it has gotten a LOT easier. The process used to involve invoking commands that ran a process and then invoked a known security hole. Once invoked, the process that you ran was “broken,” leaving you with access that had elevated privileges where you could then run commands that made those privileges permanent. Once that happened, you could unlock the bootloader (if locked and needed to be unlocked), install a better recovery partition and SU (or Super User) that made root access system wide.

Doing all of those things in the right order, at the right TIMES, wasn’t easy. In many cases you might have to perform some steps multiple times, or depending on how things worked, you may even brick your device. I know I had more than one harrowing moment where I thought I had bricked more than one device. I have been fortunate, however, NOT to have had that happen. I’ve always been able to get a wayward (or device that I thought I had bricked) back. However, this is a REAL issue, so, hence, the following notice:

WARNING – Rooting your Android device involves modifying some very key and deep system level settings and files. It (can, and likely will) void your warranty. It may also brick your device and make it permanently unusable if things turn sideways. You do any and ALL of it at your own risk, and neither I nor Soft32 sanction, suggest or encourage you to undertake these activities. No offer of warranty is expressed or implied. You move forward with any of this AT YOUR OWN RISK. Period.

Full instructions can be found on this easy to follow video. Please note that the instructions are for a Windows system. If you use a Mac or Linux system, you will need to sub in the appropriate tools (like Terminal, etc.)

The video is just under 15 minutes in length and should be easy enough for nearly anyone and everyone to follow, provided you’re familiar using the Windows Command Prompt. I’m not going to go over everything here, despite the step-by-step stuff you’re going to see, largely because the video is really very, VERY good; and because there are a LOT of How to Root articles and videos available for the HTC 10. However, there are some specific things that I do want to touch on and say.

Process
The process is fairly simple, but you’ll need to complete everything in order. You can start and stop if needed, but you should complete each of the noted steps in full before stopping. It’s not recommended that you start and stop unless you really know what you’re doing. The entire process will likely take you two to three (2-3) hours, especially if you’re new to this, so again, make sure you watch the video and have everything you need before you start.

1. Gather the software
2. Prep the device
3. Unlock the bootloader
4. Install the Recovery Image
5. Install SuperSU

Gather the Software
You’ll need the following tools. Links are not provided here. These are readily and freely available all over the internet. Please make certain you have everything that you need before you start and that each title has all of the required files.

This is especially true for Fastboot and ADB. I had to download the software separately, as I couldn’t find the software with all of the same files in it as described in the video. Take your time. Get all the files, as you will need a fully functioning Fastboot in order to do this.
1. Fastboot
2. TWRP 3.0.2.1 (or greater) recovery image
3. SuperSU v2.68 or greater
4. ADB
5. Android SDK
6. HTC Driver 4.10.0.001.msi (or greater)

Device Prep
You don’t need to do a lot here, but this stuff is important.

Developer Mode
This process is documented, like, nowhere. Or at least it isn’t documented anywhere any regular user would learn about it or find it. However, without this stuff, you’re never going to be able to get the job done.

Go to Settings – About – Software Information – More. Tap on the build number 10-15 times (or more) until the device tells you that Developer Mode has been enabled. This will enable other device communication options in Settings that you will need to check in order to root the device.

Go to Settings – Developer Options (this is a new option that appears after the above is done). Turn on OEM Unlocking. This will give you the permissions to actually go through the process of unlocking the boot loader.

Power off the device. The next step is unlocking the bootloader. Make certain you’ve got all the software you need downloaded and installed before moving forward. It will make things a lot easier, and you won’t have to start and stop with some of the things as you see in the video.

Unlocking the Bootloader
You’re going to need Fastboot for this, and you’ll need to work from a command prompt in this section. Again, watch the video, as it will take you step by step through the entire process, and it will show you the exact screens you will see while doing all of this.

Again, I’m abbreviating this process, so, please, watch the video. Though the author does initially make a mistake about this section and then corrects himself.

Connect the device to your USB cable. Turn your device back on, but when doing so, press and hold both the power button and the volume down button until you see the HTC logo. You’re going to be put into bootloader mode. The bootloader will state that its locked, and you’ll see a split screen display.

After you have your device connected to your PC via USB cable, the device booted to the bootloader and Fastboot can see it, you’re going to get a identifier token from the device that you will then enter into a special page on the HTC website.

With the HTC10 connected to your system, open a Command Prompt window and change the directory to where ever you have Fastboot installed. Once in that directory, type the following command into the Command Prompt window and press enter:

Fastboot oem get_identifier_token

Fastboot get Token

This will return a huge string of numbers that will display in the Command Prompt window. You will need to use the Copy-Paste function out of the DOS window to grab everything from

<<<< Identifier Token Start >>>>

to

<<<< Identifier Token End >>>>

including those banner lines.

Fastboot Retrieve Token

You will then need to go to HTCDev.com and create an account. After creating your free account and logging in, click the Unlock Bootloader icon. Follow the links. When you get to the Unlock Bootloader page, you’ll follow these instructions:

1. Click the device dropdown
2. Select HTC 10 from the supported device list
3. Click the Begin Unlock Bootloader button
4. Click Yes on the, “Are you sure…?” dialog
5. Click the checkboxes on the Legal Terms dialog
6. Click the Proceed to Unlock Instructions button
7. Follow the instructions on page 1 of the unlock instructions page. (It also contains links to Fastboot, if you don’t have it; and will also show you how to retrieve your Identifier Token. You can breeze through this, as you’ve already got Fastboot AND the token by this point, if you’re following the video…)
8. Click the Proceed to Step 5 button
9. Scroll to the bottom of the second page of the process. It’s here where you’ll paste in the Identifier.
10. Click the Submit button

Get Unlock Token

You’ll be emailed a file that you’ll use to unlock the bootloader of your phone. You’ll use Fastboot for this. You’ll need to save the file that HTC emails you, Unlock_code.bin, to your Fastboot directory and then type this command in the DOS window and then press enter:

Fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin

Once flashed, reboot your device. It will rebuild itself. Go back to the bootloader and it should read that it is now unlocked, but your device isn’t rooted yet.

Install the Recovery Image
At some point, you should have downloaded a copy of the TWRP recovery image. This is an image file of a new recovery image that will give you a number of different options that are more advanced than the recovery image that comes with your HTC 10. It will make installing the last part of this process – SuperSU – a lot easier and will also allow you to install custom ROM images that may become available for the HTC 10.

Follow this process to install the recovery image.

  1. Copy twrp-3.0.2-2ppme.img to your Fastboot folder
  2. At the DOS prompt window, while still in the Fastboot directory, type the command:
    Fastboot flash recovery twrp-3.0.2-2ppme.img. The file will copy over to the device.
  3. On your device, hit the power key to reboot to bootloader
  4. This will bring up the device’s actual bootloader.
  5. Press the down volume button until Boot to Recovery mode is selected on your phone and then press the power button. This will activate TWRP Recovery.
  6. Press the cancel button on the device.
  7. Keep everything read only.
  8. Press the Wipe button
  9. Press the Format Data button
  10. When prompted, type the word, “yes”. This will format the Data partition on your device.
  11. Once complete, tap Reboot, then tap Bootloader. The device screen will quickly flash and put you back in the white bootloader screen.
  12. Press the volume down button until you get to Reboot to Recovery mode. Press the power button. This will put you back in the TWRP recovery screen.

Next, proceed to the Install SuperSU section. You’re device still isn’t rooted. The next section, accomplishes this.

Install SuperSU
Please remember that you shouldn’t do this lightly. It’s at this point, that you will be able to raise the privileges on your device and actually root it.

  1. In the TWRP recovery screen, swipe to allow modifications.
  2. On your PC, go back to the folder that you downloaded SuperSU to and right click it. Click Copy from the context menu.
  3. Find your device in the Windows Explorer window’s left pain and click on it. Double click to open the internal storage.
  4. Copy the ZIP file to your device’s internal storage.
  5. Back on the device, tap the Install button and select SuperSU from the screen that displays.
  6. Swipe to install.
  7. Once that installs, tap the reboot button

Your device will completely wipe and reboot itself. You’ll need to go through the full setup process again. When all is done, tap the app tray folder icon to show all the apps that are on your device.
Find the SuperSU icon and tap on it. If you don’t get any errors, you’re all set.

Conclusion
There’s a lot here; and I honestly went into more detail and actual how-to than I had originally planned. However, better safe than sorry.

Again, watch the video. Its short, very informative and it’s VERY easy to follow.

If you’re HTC 10 was carrier unlocked (like mine was, directly from HTC) unlocking the bootloader and rooting the device won’t necessarily void your warranty. However, for devices locked to any specific carrier, like either Verizon Wireless or to AT&T, then you may void your warranty if you do this.

Are you an Android fan? Do you have an HTC 10; and if so, did you root it? Why don’t you join me in the discussion area and let me know your thoughts on the process and of your results.

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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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Olio Releases Model One Firmware Updates 1.1.71

Well… At least they’re making an effort…

DlAmpsIrIf you recall, my review of the Olio Model One wasn’t very flattering. I still think its problematic, and something that most people probably should wait on purchasing. However… they ARE trying; and for that, their grades are improving. Recently, you may recall, they released a firmware update. Well, Olio has released another firmware update, updating their Model One to version 1.1.71.

Version 1.1.70 was released on 2016-01-22. Version 1.1.71 was released on 2016-01-23. Olio again caught a bug, post release, and followed it up with a quick fix. While this shows diligence – to an extent – airing their laundry like this probably isn’t helping them very much… Olio should have kept the information to themselves and just released version 1.1.71 without saying anything. However, the following is a list of updates and fixes that have been released.

  • ALS (Automatic Light Sensor) fixes: All watches should function normally on Auto brightness.
  • Watches rebooting: We have implemented a fix for those of you who saw your watch frequently rebooting.
  • Rapid battery drain: You should now expect a full 12 hours of battery life with Gesture On, and 18+ hours with Gesture Off.
  • Incorrect weather: The weather Complication should no longer display question marks, and the current weather should be accurate.
  • Repeating alarms: Repeating alarms will now get set properly.
  • Images not loading: Watch hands, Bluetooth or battery icons, and other image assets should now load consistently and immediately.

Please remember that the Olio Model one has a passive firmware updating system. You don’t download anything to either your (iPhone or Android) phone. Instead, charge both your watch and your phone, and make sure they are connected via Bluetooth in the Olio Assist app. If your phone app does not say connected, restart Bluetooth on your watch to reconnect. If this does not resolve the connection, please email Olio support and they will assist you.

As mentioned above, unresponsive watches should be fixed with this update. If you your watch turns off on its own, Olio would like you to contact them. They will likely want to take your timepiece back to their San Francisco headquarters for servicing. If it can’t be easily fixed, Olio will replace the watch at no cost to you. Please contact support@oliodevices.com for more information.

Olio has more to offer by the end of January 2016. They are in the process of updating both iOS and Android versions of Olio Assist; and those may already be out by the time this article is published. Please check the appropriate app store for an update if it hasn’t already come down to you.

Olio’s next firmware update will come in mid-February and is currently scheduled to include the following:

  1. Bluetooth enhancements
  2. Navigation in Control Hub (it does currently exist as a notification)
  3. Voice control
  4. The ability to update various watch preferences from the phone apps
  5. Time zones
  6. Silence notification Rule improvements

I’ll have more on all of this at that time, or as I update my Model One. The passive update system is difficult at best, as there’s currently no way to download the firmware update and push it to your phone. Somehow the stars have to align just right before that happens, and there really isn’t any way to set that into motion. It either happens or it doesn’t.

I’ve suggested that Olio needs to provide an “advanced mode” that will allow people to update their watch on their own, but they have so far refused to provide that level of service. While I understand their reasoning why – this stuff is all just supposed to work in the background without any forceful action on the user’s part – it doesn’t “just work.” I’ve had my watch sitting on my desk now for at least two days waiting for this to happen.

So far… Nuthin!

This isn’t supposed to be rocket science; and I’ve followed all of the instructions that I’ve been given. I have no idea why this is such a difficult process. Unfortunately, this is partially escalated due to all of the problems and issues that the Model One has.

If the product were functioning as designed, then there likely wouldn’t be a need for any kind of “advanced mode” that allowed you to download and push a firmware update to the watch.

That may just be me; but I suspect that it isn’t. I’m pretty certain that the issues, problems, frustrations and concerns that I’ve got are ones that are being voiced by every single Model One owner.

If you have any ideas, or additional information on any of this, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me via the discussion area below. I monitor all of my postings here on Soft32, so it’s easy to get in touch with me.

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Court Affirms Samsung v. Apple Ruling

Samsung still owes Apple a ton of money…

unnamed

Yes…  The landmark trial between Apple and Samsung still isn’t settled.

Late last week, a US Federal Circuit court of Appeals denied Samsung’s request for a new en banc review of a previous decision.  This decision largely kept Apple’s patent infringement win intact.  Samsung’s last, and only resort is the US Supreme Court.

A couple of months ago, Samsung petitioned the Court for a rehearing of a previous decision regarding the patent infringement trial against Apple.  Specifically, the appeals court in May found that the readjusted jury trial award was correct.  At stake, is the $400M damage award that Samsung claims is incorrect.

The issue is that Samsung says a “complex device like a tablet or smartphone (the iPad or iPhone) uses [potentially] thousands of patented technologies.”  They’ve noted that Apple only asserted a few that cover minor features of the whole device. Samsung also claims that patents successfully leveraged during the trial are ineligible for damage awards.

If you remember, late last month, news hit the wire that companies like Dell, eBay, Facebook, Google, HP and others wrote a Friend of the Court brief supporting Samsung in their assertion.  These firms warned the court that if Apple were successful in the damages trial, it would “lead to absurd results and have a devastating impact on companies, including amici, who spend billions of dollars annually on research and development for complex technologies and their components.”

Apparently, the Friend of the Court brief didn’t sway the Court.

What’s left now, is a wait and see game.

We’re waiting and seeing because the SCotUS is a fickle lot.  They don’t hear every case brought before them.  They get to pick and choose which cases to hear; and if they decline to hear the case, then the last decision is upheld.

In this case, that means that the final award tally of $548M – though still currently being contested by both parties – is likely going to be the FINAL award.  …And that’s IF Samsung even decides to go that route.  They may just have to “man up” and take their medicine.

The graphic, above, is still VERY damning to Samsung’s case, even after an additional 4-5 years. I owned at least three of Samsung’s devices shown in the Before iPhone block.  It’s clear and insanely obvious that after the iPhone was released, their designs DRASTICALLY changed to copy its profile.  What was copied internally and in violation of Apple owned patents was – and is – for the courts to decide.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Why don’t you join me in the discussion area below, and give me your take on the whole Apple v. Samsung issue?  I’d love to hear them.

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Feature Review – Nexus 6 & Project Fi Part One

Google’s new cellular network, Project Fi, is here. Is it all its cracked up to be?

Nexus-6

Introduction

I’ve been a Google Services user for quite some time. In fact, I have a Gmail address that I still actively use that dates back to one of the very first and original Gmail Invitations. I began using Gmail in 2003, shortly after it was introduced to the public. I’ve been using Google Apps as a (now grandfathered) free, domain account since late 2009. I love Google Services for (seriously) just a very few reasons, the first and foremost being that they usually are always up and running. Its not like the earlier days when they went down all the time.

When Google announced Project Fi, I looked into getting myself a review unit and an account. With device and service now in hand, I am now currently looking into how well it all fits together. Project Fi is the company’s first foray into being an MVNO – Mobile, Virtual Network Operator.

Project Fi combines services from two mobile operators and one universal, networking service (Wi-Fi) in order to provide voice and data services. With Sprint and T-Mobile providing calling and mobile broadband service, combined with Wi-Fi calling and internet access, you should have coverage nearly everywhere… or at least that’s the idea.

There are a couple caveats with Project Fi, however. In this article, we’ll look at those. We will also look at the service it provides, the changes it makes to Google Voice – if relevant in your use – as well as the hardware it requires. I’m not going to go into a truly in-depth look at the Nexus 6 hardware (though I will cover it, somewhat). I’m going to concentrate more on how it works with Project Fi more than anything else.

The device has been available for a while; and if you’re looking for an in-depth or teardown review of the Nexus 6, you should check those out first. Again, I’m going to go over the device , but I’m going to really skim over it. There are a number of really good reviews of the Nexus 6 on the web already. You can find a few at pocketnow.com, C|Net and Engadget. With all that said, let’s get to it…

 

Hardware

The first thing that you need to know about Project Fi is that it requires very specific hardware. You can’t just take a Project Fi SIM and stick it into any phone with a SIM slot. It just doesn’t work that way. In order to use the service, you have to use compatible hardware, and that means acquiring a new device, unless you happen to own a Nexus 6.

Nexus-6

The Nexus 6 is the first (and currently only) smartphone (at the moment, at least) that works with Project Fi. If you already have a Nexus 6, you’re halfway there. All you have to do to get on the service is go to the Project Fi website and request an invitation.

Yep… an invitation. Oh… and then wait. Like, forever.

Nexus-6

Like everything cool that Google does, part of their DNA is to dangle their projects in front of you, make the access exclusive, elitist and again, cool; and build demand for it, if only just to build up the hype. In the end its (metaphorically speaking) just a photo upload service, just a webmail app, just an online office suite, etc.   So, Project Fi is just like a… no. Wait… I’m getting ahead of myself… AH-GAIN.

Nexus-6

In order to access the service, after your invitation arrives, again, you need a Nexus 6. If you don’t have one, don’t worry. You can purchase one through Project Fi. If you do, you have the option of buying it outright, or by paying for it over the course of 24 months as part of your monthly service, interest free.

Nexus-6

Through Project Fi, the Nexus 6 is $549USD for a 32GB version or $599USD for the 64GB version. Project Fi only offers the Midnight Blue version of the Nexus 6, so your only real choice with the device is storage size. If you want to purchase a Nexus 6 via their monthly purchase plan, you’ll pay about $22 a month for the 32GB version and $24 a month for the 64GB version. Again, there are no finance or interest charges. Your monthly charge will include any applicable taxes. If the Nexus 6 on Project Fi is going to be your daily driver, then it really makes sense to purchase the 64GB version, especially if you go the monthly payment route, as the price difference between the two is only $50USD. That process requires a credit check, though.

Nexus-6

However, Google is being very picky about who qualifies for the monthly payment option and who doesn’t. I wasn’t given specifics, but I was told by the PR rep I spoke with that even with my very good credit, that I wouldn’t qualify.

Screen

The first thing you’re going to notice about the Nexus 6 is its huge screen size. The device’s screen specs can be seen below. All of the specs in this article have been gathered from Phone Arena, which is one of the best places I know of to look for hard core, device specs.

Nexus-6

Physical size: 6.0 inches
Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels
Pixel density: 493 ppi
Technology: AMOLED
Screen-to-body ratio: 74.03 %
Touchscreen: Multi-touch
Features: Light sensor, Proximity sensor, Scratch-resistant glass (Corning Gorilla Glass 3)

Simply put, at 6 inches, the device… is enormous. With a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, its screen rivals the display resolution of my Apple Thunderbolt display. The only difference in the resolution (and only the resolution) between the two is that the default orientation for the Nexus 6 is Portrait (where any monitor – like my Thunderbolt Display – has a default orientation of Landscape). According to the specs, above, the screen is nearly 3/4 of the entire device. When you see it, you’ll likely have two thoughts – 1. Wow! The screen is 3/4 of the entire device!; and 2. Wait… its only 3/4 of the entire device?? That can’t be right. There’s more screen on this thing than that! The rest is system board, casing and battery.

Nexus-6

With its AMOLED display, the Nexus 6 is incredibly readable in direct sun light. I didn’t have any issues with it in that department. The device is awesome for watching video or taking pictures with its 13MP camera (more on that, below). Game play on this thing has to be amazing, given the screen’s large size and resolution. (I, unfortunately, am not much of a gamer…)

Nexus-6

With such a large footprint, the device is nearly impossible to use one handed. I’ve used a lot of devices with a lot of different form factors, with and without large touch screens. This one is hard to use with only one hand. I’m not certain I’d even try if I were you. You’ll sprain a thumb, at least. When I tried, I kept dropping the display on my desk.

Nexus-6

Lastly, the Nexus 6’s screen is covered with Gorilla Glass 3. The glass is effectively scratch proof, though Google will tell you its only scratch resistant. However, Gorilla Glass 3 is so tough, you won’t have to worry about the contents of your pocket scratching your screen.

Specs

The Nexus 6 runs Android 5.1.x, Lollipop. Google has recently stated that the device will receive an update to Android 5.1.1, “within days,” but since I received my review unit on 2015-07-09, I haven’t seen the update hit. Android 5.1.1 will be arrive as an over-the-air (OTA) update; and will provide a number of improvements, such as improving the display, increasing battery life for Wi-Fi calling and enhancing notifications.

OS: Android (5.1, 5.0)
Dimensions: 6.27 x 3.27 x 0.40 inches(159.26 x 82.98 x 10.06 mm)
Weight 6.49 oz.(184 g) the average is 5 oz. (142 g)
Rugged: Splash resistant

If the screen size didn’t give it away, then the dimensions above, should. The device is really big. At 184g (6.5oz), its also got a bit of heft to it, too. The biggest problem I had the first day I had it, though was actually keeping it in my hands. The device kept sliding out of my hands (as I noted above) because I kept trying to use it one handed. Thankfully, I was sitting at a desk in the office. With a phablet this large, don’t try it. If you’re out and about and you fumble the device, you’re likely going to have it hit the ground, and these things always manage to land on a corner or edge and then the screen shatters (Gorilla Glass 3 or not). That’s physics and geometry. Hitting the corner of a device at the right speed and velocity will likely send enough force up the glass to crack or shatter it. This bad boy requires you to use both hands to operate it. Get used to it and get over it.

The Nexus 6 has a quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 processor and Adreno 420 graphics with 3GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of storage. The device is quick and can handle just about anything that you throw at it. With the native resolution that it has, and support for HDMI (via microUSB), with the right adapter, a Bluetooth keyboard and Microsoft Office for Android, this could make a decent, on the road, laptop replacement. Couple that with OneDrive for Android, and you’ve got a perfect on the go way to edit documents in a pinch. With its large screen, you don’t really HAVE to have a microUSB to HDMI adapter. You could probably edit documents right on the plane in your oh-so-comfy coach seat if you really needed to.

In that regard, the battery on this device is pretty nice too. At 3220mAh, you have about 12 hours of talk time, 14 days of standby time and 10 hours of continuous video playback (or likely somewhere in between, depending on your brightness settings and data needs). When you need to recharge, the device comes with a turbo charger that can take you from 0-50% in 20-30 minutes. The device also supports Qi wireless charging (pronounced “chee”) for your cord-free, charging convenience.

TECHNOLOGY AND CONNECTIVITY

GSM: 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
UMTS: 800, 850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz
FDD LTE: 700 (band 28), 800 (band 19), 800 (band 20), 850 (band 5), 900 (band 8), 1800 (band 3), 2100 (band 1), 2600 (band 7) MHz
TDD LTE: 2500 (band 41) MHz
Data: LTE-A Cat 6 (300/50 Mbit/s), HSDPA+ (4G) 42.2 Mbit/s, HSDPA+ (4G) 21.1 Mbit/s, HSUPA 5.76 Mbit/s, EDGE, GPRS
nano-SIM: Yes
VoLTE: Yes
Positioning: GPS, A-GPS
Navigation: Yes
Bluetooth: 4.1
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a, b, g, n, n 5GHz, ac
Mobile hotspot: Yes
USB: USB 2.0
Connector: microUSB
Features: Mass storage device, USB charging
HDMI: via microUSB
Other: NFC, MHL, SlimPort, Tethering, Computer sync, OTA sync

Camera

I’ve been trying to use the Nexus 6 as a camera whenever possible. Its not the easiest device to wield and hold; though, in truth, taking pictures with it isn’t a horrible experience. Though (also) in truth…the performance could and should be a whole lot better, especially with the specs on the camera and the system hardware. This thing should be a whole lot faster than it is.

Thankfully, it appears as though Google has heard the wails and cries of its peoples and has released a Nexus 6 and Android 5.1 Lollipop only update to Google Camera that addresses some of these issues (plus others). The update – version 2.5.052 (2005148-30) was released on 2015-06-11. I’ve had this device for about a week, and I’ve had it on every day since getting it. I’m not certain why I’ve only just received this update today.

I’ve got a small gallery of pictures that I’ve taken with the device. They’re not anything spectacular, but you can check them out, below.

Camera: Popup13 megapixels
Flash: Dual LED
Aperture size: F2.0
Features: Autofocus, Optical image stabilization, Face detection, Digital zoom, Geo tagging
Shooting Modes: Popup High Dynamic Range mode (HDR), Panorama
Camcorder: 3840×2160 (4K) (30 fps), 1920×1080 (1080p HD) (30 fps), 1280×720 (720p HD) (30 fps)
Front-facing camera: 2 megapixels

The rear camera is a 13MP camera that will shoot in a number of different sizes and modes. The camera supports both 4:3 and 16:9 aspect ratio shots. You can get 13MP, 5MP, and 3.1MP shots in 4:3, and 9.7MP and 2.1MP shots in 16:9. The camera has a f2.0 aperture, so its pretty fast and should be ok in lower lighting situations. The cool part, though comes in its camcorder modes. The Nexus 6 shoots 4k, 1080p and 720p video at 30fps.

Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6Nexus-6

Speaker pop

I’m not sure why this is happening; but every time I turn the device on or off, the bottom speaker is popping. Its getting pretty annoying, too. The device started doing this out of the box, even before any software was installed or updated on it, so I know this isn’t something that I installed or updated causing a problem or conflict. I may need to contact Google on this one…

Software

Stock Android

The great thing about a Nexus device is that you’re running stock Android. Granted, this is not AOSP (Android Open Source Project), which is what Amazon and similar players use. This has the full Google Services install in it, and as such, you get the full Google Experience.

With the Nexus 6, you are supposed to get updates regularly, and you’re supposed to get all the updates, too. I’ve now gotten my Lollipop 5.1.1 update, and I really don’t see much of a difference in the device’s performance.

End of part one … come tomorrow to see the part two of our review

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Microsoft Acquires Acompli

…and now they have a cool mobile email app.

id392327

When a company doesn’t really have a US focused mobile device strategy – and let’s face it… Microsoft really doesn’t – things can get a bit stressful. Yes. You’re right… Windows Phones exist. Yes. I have one. No, it obviously ISN’T my daily driver; but you also have to understand one thing – Microsoft’s target market for all of its Windows Phone is NOT the United States (or other First World countries).

Microsoft isn’t making high end Windows Phones any longer. They have instead decided to concentrate their efforts on Third World countries. Very quickly, here’s why that’s very smart
1. There’s no way they are going to overtake Android or iOS devices in any kind of market share race. They just don’t have the legs to do it. Both Android and iOS are too firmly well established to nudge out of the way.
2. Microsoft’s Mobile strategy is still largely unknown. Without any real presence in the US, we’re left to people like Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott and to give us any kind of clue on what Microsoft is going to do with itself in the mobile space.

Let’s face it… even though the Surface Pro 3 may be an interesting ultrabook, Microsoft has no real content consumption device or smartphone that it can really point to or rely on in any of the markets that will either garner a lot of press or a lot of money via flagship sales. They want to concentrate on third world sales, and while that WILL perhaps produce a lot of global share, in the markets that really drive innovation and enterprise sales – First World markets – they’ve got next to nothing…

So, to help address that issue, early on during the morning of 2014-12-01, Microsoft announced it had acquired the email app developer Acompli for somewhere in the neighborhood of $200M USD.

The acquisition is a good move for Microsoft on a number of different fronts. They acquired not only the app and its IP, but also the people that coded it. Acompli has a really good Exchange interface on both iOS and Android devices, and they plug a hole where something is CLEARLY missing from Microsoft’s mobile Office Suite – Outlook.

Microsoft doesn’t have an “Outlook Mobile App” to speak of on either iOS or Android before this acquisition. According to Rajesh Jha, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Outlook and Office 365, “This acquisition brings us an app with innovative technology and a set of talented people who are passionate about reinventing email and communications on mobile screens. It will expedite our work to deliver the full power of Office to mobile devices.”

It’s clear that Microsoft is intending Acompli to be “Outlook mobile.” How the app is rebranded or actually integrated into their newly forming mobile suite for iOS and Android is yet to be totally understood. However, one would think that users would see something for those mobile suites sooner rather than later…if not before they intend to release the “touch” version of Microsoft Office for their Surface and Surface Pro tablets, currently codenamed Gemini.

This is a developing story, and I intend to follow up with either an update or a new post if something interesting comes to light. Please stay tuned.

In the meantime, what do you think of this development? Do you use Acompli? How badly do you feel “Outlook mobile” is either missing or is needed on the iOS and Android side of the world? Why don’t you join me in the discussion area and let me know what you think?

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Convert your DVD’s to any video format with TDMore DVD Converter

Convert your DVD’s to any video format with this handy Windows tool.
TDMDVD-11

I don’t know about you, but I have an absolutely HUGE DVD collection.  I’ve got DVD’s. I’ve got Blu-rays.  I’ve got movies coming out of my ears…and I absolutely love them all. All of them; but I have a huge problem. I’m running out of physical storage space for all of them.  Literally.  I’m really struggling to find a place to store even one more physical jewel case. Its probably for this reason alone that I really love applications like TDMore DVD Converter..  It’s a DVD converter for Windows, and if it can help me…it can help you, too.

TDMore DVD Converter is a versatile DVD converter and ripper that helps users quickly and efficiently convert DVD’s.  With it, you can convert DVDs to MP4, MKV, WMV, FLV, AVI, VOB, TS among other video formats.  You can also convert 2D to 3D video in MP4, MKV, WMV, TS, AVI formats.  If you’re into the audio tracks, you can convert your DVD’s to MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC, M4A as well as other audio formats.

The app uses some pretty advanced compression power to get the job done. It uses H.265 HEVC.  That gives it the ability to shrink both audio and video down to about 50% of its actual size without losing any quality during playback.  That means that the files should work very nicely on your smartphone, tablet, or anywhere else you have a finite amount of non-upgradable storage (like many of the more popular ultrabooks and other notebooks on the market today as well).  Speaking of working with today’s popular hardware, the app has integrated NVIDIA’s CUDA and Intel’s Quick Sync technologies to dramatically reduce conversion times without skimping on playback quality.

The new version of TDMore DVD Converter can provide amazing functions as other popular software with the most reasonable price. For more information, please visit official website.

TDMore DVD Converter is a decent app. Its easy to use and has supports some really cool technology built into it that allows it to create some really small video conversions.  The big problem with this app, however, is its non-standard user interface.  The problem here is PC based performance after the conversion starts.

The app does all right with its own functionality.  The PC does ok on its own, but not every PC will handle multi-tasks ok.  Now, that’s not necessarily a specific problem with THIS app on mid-range to high-end PC, but on low-end or budget based PC’s, it may be; AND the non-standard app graphical interface doesn’t help.

TDMore DVD Converter does a really great job converting movies. On my PC, it was fast and quick and PC performance didn’t tank; but then again, I have a quad-core i7 processor with 16GB of RAM. Other PC’s may not fare as well as mine; but the end result on the ripped movie will be really great.

Download

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Quickly and easily create and modify text and HTML/XML files with TextWrangler

Quickly and easily create and modify text and HTML/XML files with this industry leading text editor for Mac.

TW-01

Today, many people write their own apps. Finding the right editor or tool to write the code in, can be a challenge. Some times you just want to code and not bring up the how IDE or you have an idea and just want to quickly jot it down without running a huge program. Its for this reason I really like TextWrangler. It’s a professional, but budget featured, HTML and text editor for Mac.

TextWrangler is a general-purpose text editor for light-duty composition, text file editing and manipulation of other text-oriented data. TextWrangler supports working with both plain-text and Unicode files. However, TextWrangler does not support files written using right-to-left writing systems, such as Hebrew or Arabic.

TextWrangler has some pretty cool features. It can do single and multi-file search and replace functions, with file filtering options. It has flexible grep-style pattern-based searching capabilities, based on PCRE (Perl-Compatible Regular Expression). You can also use the app to do a DIFF between two files and then merge the differences into a single file.

If you’re coding, then you need to take a look at TextWrangler. Aside from being free, the app has a number of programming functions that coders of all experience levels will appreciate. It has support for unlimited undo/redo as well as multiple clipboards so you can copy and paste a number of different code snippets from one or more files into others that you may be working on. The app also supports splittable editing windows so that you can view two different locations in a file at the same time. Again, this is an awesome app and one that I will likely be using as I learn to code.

 

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