The latest version of Android’s platform, Nougat, is on less than three percent of all Android devices despite being available since last August. And yet, this isn’t stopping Google from launching the follow-up in a few months.
Codenamed Android O — since it comes after the letter N of Nougat — there’s no official moniker for the eighth iteration just yet. It’ll presumably be another dessert, like Oreo or Oatmeal Raisin Cookie, but while we wait for the announcement, a developer preview is now available for download. This means people who create apps for a living can test their software on Android O before it hits the consumer market, making sure everything is ready for the big launch.
So, for consumers like us, this build isn’t stable enough for use as a daily driver. It’s anyone’s guess when the final, stable version will come out, but we can at least check out the newest features right now. Here are five of them:
Longer battery life
How many times have we heard this one before? While past promises didn’t always deliver, Google is backing up its latest battery-boosting claims with a promising feature: Android O can prevent apps running in the background from abusing system resources, so they won’t slow down whatever you’re actually working on. Take that, greedy Facebook app!
Yet another revised Settings menu
As Android gets more feature-packed, the more cluttered the Settings menu becomes. Taking all the new features and configurations into mind, Google came up with much more streamlined categories for all the options you can tinker with. They’re grouped together in a more logical manner, so finding that setting for activating NFC or checking your battery usage is all the more straightforward.
Support for picture-in-picture
You know how you can minimize what you’re watching on the YouTube app so you can scroll through other videos? Now, imagine doing that with any video on any other app. This would work nicely on the large-screen phones we’ve been seeing lately, and would open up more multitasking possibilities on top of the split-screen mode Nougat introduced.
Even better notification control
As apps become more complex, so do their pesky alerts. Android O is once again offering better control over notifications and how they get pushed to you. On top of long-pressing a notification to select what exactly you’d like it to show you, swiping it to the side also allows you to snooze a specific app for as long as you want.
More control from start to finish
Stock Android is taking another page from the user interfaces Samsung, LG, and other major players have been developing, and applying it to its own system. On the lock screen, you may now swap the usual lower-left and lower-right shortcuts (normally reserved for emergency calls and quickly launching the camera) for whatever other apps you’d prefer.
Plus, modifying the navigation bar at the bottom is finally, finally possible! The standard back, home, and app drawer buttons have adjustable positions and spacing between each other, letting you choose the most comfortable setup for any screen size you’re handling. You can even place additional buttons to the left or right of the trio of keys.
[irp posts=”10272" name=”Six months in, Android Nougat distribution still sucks”]
Best of 2019: Our favorite smartphones
So many choices, so we narrowed them down for you
There’s really not one best smartphone. We all have different needs and thankfully, the options that brands give us is not lacking at all. Whether your priority is photography, gaming, or just something basic, there is definitely a smartphone for you.
Here are our favorites.
Best smartphones for photography: iPhone 11 Pro, Pixel 4
How good are the cameras? That’s always a topic of conversation when new phones are released. While other brands have made huge strides, the iPhone 11 Pro and the Pixel 4 continue to dominate this category. The iPhone is a no-brainer choice for most people. Consistency is key and Apple has been pretty much consistent with the cameras on the iPhone.
Meanwhile, Google’s computational photography on the Pixel 4 continues to wow reviewers and casual users. Like the iPhone, the Pixel has consistently been one of the best in this category and it appears it will continue to be in the foreseeable future.
Honorable mentions: Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro
Best Android flagship: Samsung Galaxy Note 10, Galaxy Note 10+
While the S Pen continues to set the Galaxy Note 10 series apart, the latest iteration of this Samsung flagship does so many other things at a high level as well. It is still a smartphone that’s literally for anyone, especially with the Galaxy Note 10 being made for people with smaller hands. Audio enthusiasts will lament the lack of a headphone jack for HiFi audio but more casual users are buying wireless earphones for their devices.
Honorable Mentions: OnePlus 7T Pro, Huawei P30 Pro, Samsung Galaxy S10+
Best implementation of a foldable display: Motorola razr
While the Samsung Galaxy Fold dominated this year’s headlines — and not always for the best reasons, it was the Motorola razr that showed us that while it’s notable to be the first, it’s more important to be the first to get it right. The new razr is a buzzer beater entry in this category but it’s also a slam dunk. The device, at launch, just works. No creases, no displays you can tear off, and no threat of software support being banned.
Best smartphone with a 64MP camera: Realme XT
The only two other phones in this category are the Redmi Note 8 Pro and the Vivo NEX 3. We think that of the three, the Realme XT offers the best value. You see, other than the megapixel count, what sets smartphone cameras apart is the phone’s post-processing. The Realme XT consistently produces images with great detail and fantastic color reproduction. It doesn’t hurt that the phone’s white variant looks pretty good too.
Best value smartphone: Xiaomi Mi 9T Pro (Redmi K20 Pro)
This is 2019’s flagship killer. Not only is it equipped with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 that’s present in most flagships today, it also has a modern all-screen design with a pop-up camera plus its rear cameras more than holds its own against phones that are similarly priced. But the price, that’s where this phone truly sets itself apart. For less than half of most flagships today, you get very near-flagship performance. There’s almost nothing else like it.
Honorable Mentions: OnePlus 7T, Realme 5 Pro
Best budget smartphone: Realme 5
Realme broke out in 2019 like no other brand. They’ve strengthened their foothold in key developing markets by launching devices that punch above their weight class. The Realme 5 is one such device. As one of the few budget smartphones with a quad-camera setup and is capable of basic gaming, it’s a well-rounded device and is perfect for anyone looking to get their first smartphone.
Honorable Mentions: Redmi Note 8, Samsung Galaxy A20s
Best smartphones for videography: iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max
iPhones have been far and away the best smartphones for taking videos for a while now. The same is true in 2019. The iPhone 11 series has put even more emphasis on the cameras and just took what it was already good at and just became better at it. No one’s touching the iPhone in this category but the challengers have been gaining on them.
Honorable mentions: Huawei Mate 30 Pro, Huawei P30 Pro, OPPO Reno2, Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
Best gaming smartphone: ROG Phone 2
It’s not even about the accessories. Yes, those are cool, but what really makes this a gaming smartphone is its design. We’re not just talking about how it looks. Design should always be how form and function come together. The ROG Phone 2’s features and little touches here and there like the second usb-c port for charging, the flat display, the front-firing speakers — these are all design decisions that address a mobile gamer’s needs. It’s extremely thoughtful of its target market.
Best Android smartphone without Google Mobile Services: Huawei Mate 30 Pro
Heh. Sorry Huawei, we just had to. ✌
Motorola razr Hands-On
The popular RAZR is back!
The new Motorola razr is a modern version of the popular RAZR V3. It still has a sleek design, but now has a 6.2-inch Flex Display with a perfectly executed zero-gap hinge.
It runs on Snapdragon 710 chipset, 6GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2510 mAh battery with 15W TurboPower charger right out of the box.
But does all of that justify the $1499 price tag?
This is our Motorola razr hands-on.
I was in Facebook jail for 24 Hours
Banned unjustly without any chance to appeal
It was a lazy Friday morning when I woke up to a 9GAG article. Chuckling on its narrative, I saved the article in hopes of reading it later again so I can decide if I will share it with a close friend of mine. However, saving the article meant posting and sharing it, according to Facebook. I was given a warning for violating their community guidelines.
Shocked and confused, I unsaved the link. To find out if it’s the real culprit, I saved the link once again and then boom! I was banned from posting, liking, and engaging in any posts on Facebook.
At first, I thought the ban would only affect my profile. Little did I know, the ban would extend to the pages I handle. I couldn’t post, not even the scheduled posts I prepared for the day were posted. It affected my job as a social media manager.
Locked up and grounded
Que horror, the only word I uttered after realizing I screwed up. I asked someone to cover for my work while I channel my frustrations on Twitter and Reddit. Mindlessly, I scrolled through Instagram and I repeatedly had the urge to switch apps and browse on Facebook so I can share memes, just like what I would do on a normal day.
“They know everything, they can see what’s happening, but they just can’t tell the world the situation they’re in.”
However, I couldn’t handle it anymore. Not being able to share or at least react, I felt disconnected from everyone. To free myself from the negative feelings circulating inside, I uninstalled Facebook and did the rest of my work for the day.
For 24 hours, I was impatiently waiting to get my ban lifted. Being in Facebook jail didn’t feel like being cut-off from the world, but it was more like being grounded. It’s like my parents decided to stop me from seeing and contacting my friends just because I sneaked out of the house past 10pm.
But more importantly, being in Facebook jail made me reminisce the prison life in the TV series I used to watch. How people — both criminals and victims of injustice alike — band together in a different, locked-up space, watching the world outside prison quietly. They know everything, they can see what’s happening, but they just couldn’t tell the world the situation they’re in.
To make it through the day, I casually searched for people who experienced the same situation — unjustly banned for using a feature that isn’t directly hurting anyone. If I would have said something explicit or any form of hate speech, I would understand. But I didn’t.
“Facebook is just an authoritarian organization doomed for failure.”
If the article I wanted to save and read for later was violating the platform’s nudity policy, then why was 9GAG not reprimanded for posting it at all? Why did it have to be me? Up until today, I still can’t fathom the reason. Not even on Facebook’s useless Help center. It was reading stories that shared the same fate as I did that made me feel better. They made me feel that I’m not alone. “I’ll get through this,” was what I told myself.
It’s funny how being connected through the world’s largest social media platform made it both a good and a bad thing for everyone. It’s good in a way that Facebook helped us maintain the connection and relationships despite the distance. It’s bad in a way that we depend on Facebook to get updates from people through the posts they share and the stuff that goes viral; that we need to stay online and check on everyone through our news feed just so we don’t miss anything that might be discussed in real life.
What I learned
The ban was lifted after what felt like forever and I learned my lesson. It’s like being given a second lease on life. But what I learned, first and foremost, is to never use Facebook’s save feature. Without any strict, proper guidelines on what constitutes a ban according to their policies, Facebook is just an authoritarian organization doomed for failure — a dictator deciding what to censor without any justifications or proper explanations.
Of course, it’s their platform. They can do whatever they want with it, but Facebook is more than a platform. It’s a whole new way of connecting with everyone around the world. A lot of realizations dawned on me through this incident, and there is one more lesson to learn here: Life without Facebook can be a good one, too. One where we rely on real, physical, and intimate connections. One where we only catch up with the people that truly matter.
Now I know what people feel like when they claim they have found freedom after deleting their Facebook accounts. I’m still far from deleting my account, but slowly, I’ll figure it out. Maybe, for now, what I can do is step away and disconnect, and live a day or two without social media.
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