Features

Nougat is Android’s best, but there’s still room for improvement

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It’s been nearly two months since Google officially named the seventh version of its Android operating system, and we’re now seeing Nexus devices receiving Android 7.0 Nougat through direct, over-the-air downloads. It’s a given that this is the most mature and jam-packed iteration of any Google-powered OS to date, but how far has it come along?

Having spent a substantial amount of time on both the beta phase and the stable build we have now, we must say that Nougat is, by far, the most efficient Android version to ever grace a handset. It’s obvious how Google took some inspiration from manufacturers. Software features that have been present on Samsung, HTC, and Sony smartphones, among others, have become part of Android’s most basic interface.

Everything is simply better

Android 7.0 Nougat - Features Overview

Multitasking, for one, is a headline feature of Nougat. Google took a page out of Samsung’s book and applied split-screen multitasking as a standard function. But unlike Samsung’s limited take on the feature, Nougat’s implementation is compatible with far more applications. By opening any app and holding the app overview button (the square to the right of the circular home button), you’re shown a list of recent apps to display on the lower half of the screen. And this isn’t some lame, laggy feature either; for instance, you can watch a full-length video while taking notes on your app of choice.

On the subject of efficiency, tapping the same overview button twice will allow you to switch to the last app you accessed. Think of it as a “Command + Tab” (on a Mac) or “Alt + Tab” (on Windows) shortcut for Android. We found this especially useful for going through multiple chat apps with less touches and swipes.

Another vital improvement is the smarter notifications and settings. In addition to the greater control you have over the notifications you receive, such as instantly sharing or replying from the alert itself, quick settings are available on the first swipe down from the top. Swipe once more, and you’ll see a longer list of settings, all of which can be rearranged or swapped for whatever you find more fitting. As for the main settings menu, you’re greeted with a preview for each option; you can see how much space you have without entering the “Storage” setting, and even preview your data and battery usage without entering the sub-menu.

And these are just some of our favorite new features of Nougat. Expect longer battery life, stronger security, an additional set of 72 emoji to play with, and greater control over the data usage of specific apps, to name a few, once Android 7.0 Nougat enters your gadget.

But all’s not well

Android 7.0 Nougat - Problems

Like any operating system fresh out of the lab, there are growing pains to deal with. Besides a couple of bugs we encountered on our updated Nexus 6P, such as the battery percentage meter constantly disappearing and Google Now sometimes crashing, not all design cues and features work the way they should.

The most glaring issue is app compatibility during split-screen multitasking. While it’s understandable that a large helping of third-party software aren’t ready for the cut-up interface, it’s inexcusable for the built-in apps Google produced themselves. A message that the “App may not work with split-screen” appears on apps like YouTube, and to make matters worse, you’ll see “App doesn’t support split-screen” for the basic Google Search app. Fortunately, time is the cure for this, since this function is now baked into the core of Android.

Interestingly, the “Clear All” button is now back in the app overview, despite Android developers claiming it’s unnecessary because of better memory management since 5.0 Lollipop. The bad news is that it’s found at the very top of the app list, meaning you have to scroll through every open app to reach the option. Nougat is already excellent at keeping programs in a low-power state when not in use, but for clean freaks, having instant access to the clear button would have been glorious.

Lastly – and this has been prevalent for a few Android generations now – you still can’t add widgets or apps to the left of the primary home screen. Everything simply goes to the right, so if you’re a fan of multiple widgets, you have only one direction to swipe for quick access.

Don’t hold your breath, unless you’re a Nexus user

What use is software if you can’t experience it? Unless you own a Nexus device, chances are you’re not receiving a Nougat update anytime soon. Google’s very own devices always get first dibs on major updates, while other users could wait as long as a year for just a hint of good news. Things could be changing, however, with news of the upcoming LG V20 being the first smartphone to come equipped with the latest Android version straight out of the box, and not a next-generation Google Nexus. With this, Google might finally be addressing its most recurring issue: fragmentation.

Android Marshmallow Fragmentation

Source: https://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html

Android’s fragmentation, which refers to the overly diverse range of versions across all smartphones and tablets, is currently at its worst. Looking at the chart above, which hasn’t even been updated to reflect the latest Android version yet, shows how last year’s 6.0 Marshmallow continues to catch up with the wider distribution of older generations, despite Android 7.0 Nougat already being available.

Still, possibly poor market share shouldn’t put down Nougat’s accomplishments. Consider yourself lucky if you’re part of the new minority of Nougat users; it’s as solid as it gets for Android.

[irp posts=”10272" name=”Six months in, Android Nougat distribution still sucks”]

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Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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Features

DALLA DALLA, Crazy Rich Asians: Now Playing

A Valentine’s special!

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While we wait for the Galaxy S10 to launch and MWC 2019 to start, let’s take a moment to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

If you don’t have a date, don’t be grumpy. Sometimes, all you need is self-love and entertainment to keep you going. Have some fun alone time and enjoy what’s now playing at GadgetMatch!

Movies to see

Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Marvin: If you’re single and unhappy about it this month, catching a late showing of Dragon Ball Super: Broly may be the best way to release stress in the theater. It’s by far the best Dragon Ball movie yet with tireless action and gorgeous visuals, plus it’s surprisingly friendly to both old fans and those new to the franchise.

Crazy Rich Asians
MJ: Crazy Rich Asians is a film for those who are ready to take it to the next level. It’s about standing up to people who get in the way of your happiness, and choosing what’s best for the person you love. It’s a dash of romance with a sprinkle of comedy to keep you from crying in heart-wrenching scenes.

TV shows to binge watch

Kakegurui
Rodneil: The anime follows a transfer student who seemed sweet and normal at first, but has an insatiable thirst for gambling. It’s a relatively easy watch and you can follow along even if you’re doing something else.

Games to play

Kingdom Hearts III
Rodneil: There’s too much backstory heading into this game that it can get super confusing, especially if this is your first game in the franchise. The story is clunky at best but the game is a visual spectacle. Push the narrative to the side and just play it for the fireworks.

Resident Evil 2
Marvin: I was too afraid to finish Resident Evil 2 on my own as a kid, so I’m glad it’s been remade for my braver adult self. In line with Valentine’s Day, I’d say it’s a perfect game to play with a partner so that you have someone to hold your hand during the most intense zombie sightings. 💕

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Kahit Ayaw Mo Na by This Band
Rodneil: Only caught wind of this song recently and I haven’t been able to stop listening since. It talks about someone wanting to work it out with her/his partner. However, the partner seems unwilling. The music invites multiple listens and the way the words flow is ear-candy.

Shine by Pentagon
Rodneil: My obsession with girl group Twice has served as a gateway to other K-Pop tracks, and this is one of them. It’s simply an absolutely fun song to listen to. A great pick-me-up to get you started in the morning.

Can’t Help Falling In Love by Kina Grannis
MJ: Kina Grannis’ strings and acoustic guitar rendition of Elvis Presley’s classic love song makes you remember how love is a force you can’t resist. The emotion you’ll feel in this song is overwhelming — ranging from the bliss of being in love to confusion and even heartbreak.

DALLA DALLA by ITZY
Vincenz: The song’s unique and dynamic blend of sounds, from a hip-hop centric intro and bridge up to a contrasting, bright chorus, makes it a great and catchy debut song (their visuals are exceptional, too). Message of the song? It’s all about empowerment and self-love!

Gokigen Sayonara (A Happy Goodbye) by IZ*ONE
Vincenz: This song caught my ears with its catchy tune and lyrics, which doesn’t usually happen since most J-Pop releases sound so different. Its lively, electro-pop vibe opposes the song’s message about bidding farewell to someone you truly love, but it works.

Cities/Places to visit

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Boracay
Marvin: Now cleaner and more beautiful than ever, Boracay’s beach is the perfect weekend getaway once again. A lot of activities and shops are still unavailable, but if you simply want to soak in the sun and sea breeze, it would be a great time to go once the tourists leave post-Valentine’s.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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Samsung Galaxy S10: Everything we know so far

The tenth-generation flagship

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Samsung is set to unveil its new flagship series this month — the Galaxy S10. Even before the phones get announced, we already know a lot about them. From the design to their prices, information about the Galaxy S10 family is already floating around the internet.

Without further ado, let’s get to know the Galaxy S10 phones before they go official.

A slight refresh in design

Design-wise, the Galaxy S10 series won’t look that different from its predecessor, the Galaxy S9, and even its bigger cousin, the Galaxy Note 9. But, it has its own characteristic.

For starters, it’ll have a new display. Samsung doesn’t like the notch (but they do have a budget notched phone), so the Galaxy S10 phones will have a hole-punch camera instead. The Galaxy A8s gave us a preview of Samsung’s plans, but the Galaxy S10 will use Super AMOLED technology, of course.

Alleged Samsung Galaxy S10 and S10+ units | Image credit: AllAboutSamsung

This year, aside from the usual regular and Plus variant, we’ll have a third member of the Galaxy flagship family. Dubbed the Galaxy S10E, this model is going to be cheapest of the bunch. It’ll have to let go of some features to meet its price point, though.

In terms of display size, the Galaxy S10+ will be the biggest at 6.4 inches, in the middle is the regular Galaxy S10 with its 6.1-inch panel, and the smallest is the Galaxy S10E at 5.8 inches.

The superior Galaxy S10+ will have two front cameras and its hole is more of an oblong rather than a circle. This also means that the Galaxy S10+ has less screen real estate than its smaller siblings.

Since the front camera is now smacked inside the display area, Samsung can shrink the bezel even more. The current Galaxy flagships already have edge-to-edge screens, which means the Galaxy S10 phones will have more immersive displays. Although, Samsung has to let go of its iris scanner in order to pull off the true borderless design. In exchange, the Galaxy S10 and S10+ will have in-display fingerprint scanners.

The three Galaxy S10 variants | Image credit: Evan Blass

The Galaxy S10 phones will have curved displays and contoured glass backs, except for the Galaxy S10E model. The camera setup on the back is aligned vertically, similar to the Galaxy Note 9’s.

The base colors for all models are black, green, yellow, and white. There are also talks about a special blue shade and a limited ceramic finish for the Galaxy S10+.

Top of the line as always

In the specifications department, none of the Galaxy S10 models will disappoint. All three Galaxy S10 phones will have at least 6GB of memory and 128GB of storage.

The Galaxy S10+ will have a special variant that’ll certainly be considered overkill with 12GB of memory and a whopping 1TB of storage. Just typing that makes my laptop feel inferior to a smartphone.

Galaxy S10 and S10+ back | Image credit: AllAboutSamsung

Like previous Galaxy S phones, the tenth generation will sport the fastest Exynos and Snapdragon processors available. Currently, there’s the Exynos 9820 from Samsung and the Snapdragon 855 from Qualcomm. It’s unclear, though, if the phones will support 5G out of the box.

The rest of the specs should include USB-C and 3.5mm audio ports. If the headphone jack truly continues to live another year, it’ll be a strong statement against manufacturers that ditched it for certain reasons.

Galaxy S10 reverse wireless charging | Image credit: WinFuture.de

The multiple cameras on the Galaxy S10 phones are quite interesting. We knew Samsung was already developing triple cameras since the second half of 2018. If you can recall, the company released the new Galaxy A7 with three rear cameras and then the Galaxy A9 with four rear cameras.

The camera sensors and features of the Galaxy S10 models have yet to be detailed, but we do know that the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ will have three advanced shooters on the back.

As for the batteries, the Galaxy S10E will have the smallest at 3100mAh, which is above average. The Galaxy S10, on the other hand, will have a slightly bigger 3400mAh cell, while the Galaxy S10+ will have a long-lasting 4100mAh battery. Fast charging will be supported both in wired and wireless methods. Reverse wireless charging is also anticipated.

How much will it cost?

According to the latest leaked pricing info, the Galaxy S10E will go for EUR 749. The regular Galaxy S10 will start at EUR 899 and will have a more expensive EUR 1,149 variant. As the more premium of the three, the Galaxy S10+ starts at EUR 999. If you want the top-dog variant with 12GB memory and 1TB storage, you’ll have to prepare EUR 1,499.

When will it ship?

The phone is launching on February 20 during Samsung’s yearly Unpacked event. The keynote will take place in San Francisco, California and streamed live on Samsung’s website.

They won’t be immediately available after the launch, but pre-orders are expected to be open the next day. Rumor has it that the phones will be in stores as early as March 8.

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That’s about everything we know about the Galaxy S10 series, so far. Nothing is confirmed until the official launch, so there might be some changes. Are you planning on getting any of the Galaxy S10 phones?

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