Ubuntu Phone , a new contender or overhyped flop ?

6 01 2013

devices-home-hero-432x252

Ubuntu, em… what ?

To most people, this means nothing. But to a small percentage of like-minded computer geeks like myself ! Ubuntu, is another Operating System. Similar to Windows or Mac. Ubuntu is a Linux based OS, some people may have heard of Linux, Ubuntu is based on the Debian Linux Distrubution and like Android, is free and open sourced. There are many more Linux operating softwares but Ubuntu is the most common, giving the user more control of their computer, similar to rooting a phone. Ubuntu also claims to be Virus-Free, and has great in built Virus protection. Ubuntu is free to download, install and updates are also free for life.

Ubuntu can be installed alongside an OS like Windows, this is what I have running on my computer. Ubuntu alongside W8. This means that upon boot, I can choose what OS I want to run, with a section of my Hard Drive partitioned to this OS and this OS alone. Ubuntu can currently be installed on an Android phone, with the phone still running Android, but when docked and plugged into a monitor and keyboard, becoming a fully fledged PC.

Ubuntu phone is going to bedifferent to this. This will be a standalone phone OS, i.e your phone will run Ubuntu instead of Android.

app-launcher

The video above gives an idea as to the UI and operating of this and will be available before February as a patch for the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. As soon as this is released I’ll post another thread on this, to give an idea of how it runs and functions with day to day use.

welcome-screen

Many think Ubuntu have taken a step too far with trying to implement this OS onto a mobile platform, and single handedly trying to Unify all of their Operating Software Platforms. They claim to be the first to be able to do this, but many would argue Windows got their first with the unification aspect.

This looks really interesting and the UI looks really fresh and different, I’m intrigued to see how it goes !!

http://www.viddler.com/v/ac8413f3

The Video above is from Engadget and also gives a slightly different, but great look at the OS in action and is well worth a watch.





AOKP JellyBean Build 1 Galaxy Nexus ROM Review

26 08 2012

http://aokp.co/index.php/releases/_/jellybean-build-1-r28

Released on the 20th of August, AOKP has made available JellyBean Build 1. Now, this is confusing to most as, unknown to some, AOKP have been producing JellyBean Nightly builds for a few weeks previous to this. These were a lot more experimental than previous ‘Builds’ and the current ‘Build’ is thought to be a culmination of the best points of these Nightly’s developed over the past few weeks.

The ROM is apparently a far way away from being a stable release but has been suprisingly bugless for me since I started running it, with only a minor glitch here and there.

AOKP have planned out what they are going to do with this ROM following its jump to JellyBean and it seems to have helped a lot with all of the features it encompasses instead of throwing a lot of random non integrated features at it and hoping it sticks. Like older AOKP, it has a lot of UI customisation as well as almost 30 ‘Swag Papers’ to spruce up your homescreen andsome unique features and inbuilt performance control. One of the talked about features is the flip to vibrate or silent function, this as it suggests turns the phone to silent or vibrate when you put the phone on its back or during a call when you flip it to its back, useful in meetings, work, or just in general if you really don’t want to answer the phone to the person who is calling!

   

Im running this now and went from Paranoid Android to it and im not let down. I used to be a bit of an AOKP fanboy but was pleasantly suprised with my experience on PA, but I think this ROM has brought me back over to the dark side !

This is only the first JellyBean Build as it name suggests so expect a lot more from AOKP. They have their team and they clearly know what they are doing from running over 10 of their previous builds on Ice Cream Sandwich and with great innovation and features included its definately one to keep an eye on over the coming weeks and months !

 





Paranoid Android 1.6.9 Alpha Galaxy Nexus Hybrid Jelly Bean ROM

5 08 2012

Ok, apologies for the massively long title, but I feel its all required !

Since Rooting my Galaxy Nexus GSM a few months ago I’ve experimented with a number of ROM’s, and found that the AOKP Builds were by far my favourite, having the right balance of optimisations, tweaks and UI changes.

When Jelly Bean was issued on I/O Nexus Devices, I was at the front of the queue to get the Jelly Bean stock ROM flashed. Since AOKP hasn’t released a Jelly Bean ROM (discounting the very beginning stages Alpha build) I felt it was time to play the field, and was not let down in the slightest by Paranoid Android !

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1619582

All information relating to the ROM can be accessed via the above thread, this will also give far more images and information in comparison with what I can give in a singular blog post, as well as links to download.

This ROM is touted as being the first true ‘hybrid’. This means that you can have the phone set up with a phone interface, a phablet interface, a tablet interface as well as having a great combined ‘hybrid’ version. This is something that is executed really well within the build, with no other ROM’s as far as im aware pulling this off to such great success.

The ROM is based on CyanogenMod 10 so it also incorporates all of the great Cyanogen features (AOKP was mostly built upon CM) and also includes the much loved ‘ Theme Chooser’. This means that standard tweaks such as changing the number of lock-screen icons, changing performance based attributes, as well as possible alterations to the Notification bar, battery icons etc.

  

Above are a few screenshots showing the ‘Hybrid’ Layout using the settings app as an example. There are plenty of videos on YouTube that show a great walk-through of each of the Layouts and their individual features.

I’ve found this ROM to be pretty reasonable on battery, as well as being very stable. As the name suggests these are Alpha builds and are updated very frequently with new fixes and optimisations but using as an average user, I’ve tried a number of builds and have found them to be very stable.

This ROM also includes a few more Apps to standard. It includes the Apollo music app in place of Play Music, a Terminal Emulator app, DSPManager and Dev Tools. The DSP Manager and Apollo are aimed at the audiophiles amongst us giving a better music interface and the ability to apply various custom equalizers to the speaker output. The Dev Tools and Terminal Emulator are as the name suggests, these are Apps used primarily by Developers and are a useful addition if this is what you enjoy doing.

I try to stay impartial on most reviews, but this is a great ROM and I’d recommend it if your looking for a great overall performing ROM, or something different to what your running currently.





Clockwork Mod Recovery CWM 6.0.0.5

18 07 2012

http://www.clockworkmod.com/rommanager/

Most people know that if your into flashing your Android device a decent recovery is essential.

Clockworkmod is by far one of the most widely used recoveries, and with a recent update its easy to see why.

A recovery, to anybody who is non technical or familiar to flashing is the program that can be used to install, back up and restore files, or your entire phone. You can make Nandroids using this program, a Nandroid is a complete back up of the entire phone, effectively meaning that if the ‘you know what’ hits the fan and you mess up your phone, you can boot to Clockworkmod Recovery and restore your Nandroid, bringing your phone back to the state it was in at the time of the backup.

I’m currently running version 6.0.0.5 . In comparison with versions <6.0 the differences are night and day. The new recovery backs up files in a different way so that it uses less space, and takes less time.. the 2 improvements you would like out of any recovery.

The decrease in the both of these go hand in hand. Each backup folder is of a smaller size, but this only makes up part of the backup as with the new version of CWM their are 2 folders which contribute to the backup. Essentially when backing up, the system makes a back up file, then makes a secondary file with different aspects of the backup in it. These are parts which are unlikely to change, system files, APK’s etc so that when the recovery tries another incremental backup, it does not need to re-do the backup for these parts and simply backs up the other section meaning it takes far less time and uses far less space.

The downfall of this method is that if you are running a completely different ROM e.g Jelly Bean stock or AOKP Ice Crem Sandwich then some of these overlapping files may have to be backed up again making the backup process slightly longer than incremental backups and again using more space.

The UI was also updated in this build, it is far more clean and a lot more pleasant to look at .. in comparison with the black screen/green writing Matrix effect, some geeks may love that look but to be honest, it just gives me a sore head.

The older version is shown on the left below, with the newer screen on the right.

                

All in all, a great Recovery by Koush who is an unbelievable developer. If your rooted and don’t have CWM installed, I’d highly recommend doing so, easy to use, great features and with increased speed it makes flashing so simple and quick.





AOKP Build 40 ROM Review

6 07 2012

http://aokp.co

AOKP started in November 2011 with ROM’s for the Galaxy Nexus, but now supports numerous devices from different manufacturers and currently has over 50,000 Devices running a build of AOKP.

There are 2 kind of releases that AOKP offer, Builds (nightly) and Milestone (stable). As the name suggest, Stable versions are more stable and released less freqeuntly. The Nightly builds aren’t released every night but are released a lot more frequently in comparison to the Stable builds, these are purely experimental builds which may still have some bugs. Users have the opportunity to report these bugs so that the next build or stable can avoid experiencing similar issues.

AOKP Build 40 can be found here http://aokp.co/index.php/releases/_/build-40-r26
This link takes you to a page full of devices, after choosing your device you will be provided with a download link.

This build is the last expected Experimental Ice Cream Sandwich Build(Android 4.0.4), with a final Stable Milestone due to be released shortly, before the team turn their attention to Jelly Bean (Android 4.1)

In comparison with Stock Android 4.0.4 the differences are almost too much to comprehend in a single review. The build includes Nova Launcher, this can be downloaded by any device but can change the look and speed of the stock launcher dramatically, with different screen animations included.

                            

Build 40 also incorporates the Theme Chooser, this is an easier way of applying a theme to the device and different variants can be downloaded from the App Store, or forums such as http://forum.xda-developers.com A few different Home Screens taken from my device running build 40 are shown above, both of these are using the Achromatic Theme included in this Build.

The device contains an additional tab to the settings menu called “Rom Control” this is effectively what makes the ROM. This gives options to change General UI, Lockscreens, Performance, Battery Indicator styles as well as many other points like Toggles and clock styles.

Within the Performance Section, the device can be UnderClocked or OverClocked and many more settings can be changed, this can make the device faster, which uses more battery life or the opposite. I’ve found that by UnderClocking the device slightly, the battery gains are massive with a barely noticable drop in performance.

To see all the ROM has to offer it takes a few days of playing about with, this is something i recommend you do. If you have or havent Flashed a ROM before this is a good place to start. This is incredibly stable, especially for an experimental build and has more UI customisations than you could imagine.

Do it, you know you want to !





Jelly Bean ! Android 4.1, first thoughts !

30 06 2012

Owning a rooted Galaxy Nexus has its benefits.

After Google dished out some devices at I/O preloaded with Android 4.1, the developing community has went crazy and successfully extracted this OS for download.

A quick look at RootzWiki or XDA Developers and you will find endless posts filled with download links for Jelly Bean.

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1737849  This is the link i used.

Jelly Bean still has the potential to be altered slightly prior to release but this leaked version will probably encompass most of what the new software has to offer.

Below are a couple of the subtle differences in the software. As you can see the Notification Bar is different with a lot more neat approach, also including a settings toggle. The icon on the right also acts as a “dismiss all” sort of function, removing any notifications.

You can also see the lock screen is slightly different with an added shortcut for “Google Now” at the top position, and a new animation.

As well as a new search bar along the top the homescreens look very much the same, the image on the left shows what happens when you swipe up from the shortcut keys, this again gives a shortcut to “Google Now”.

A lot of the Google based apps have also had UI (user interface) overhauls. The most noticable for me was that of Youtube, this app looks completely different and has taken a step in the right direction as far as im concerned.

Google Now is one of the main differences for this new update. This would take a post in itself to give it the attention it deserves, its effectively the competitor for Siri. The video below gives a good starting idea to its capabilities

Putting aside the visual changes of the OS, the performance changes are what sets it apart. The “buttery smooth” like feel that google promised feels like it has been achieved with multi tasking, typing and even the stock launcher feeling far smoother and faster. Other articles have benchmarked the update to see what the numbers look like but dont look to have got much benefit from it, this is something that is incredibly easy to see on the every day use of the device.

To summarise, the quicker the full Jelly Bean OTA update is released the better.
The improvements that have been made have built on the solid foundations that were achieved on the release of Ice Cream Sandwich





Cruzerlite Androidified Case Review

29 06 2012

http://www.cruzerlite.com/

This is a great website for cases. The case i ordered specifically was the Androidified Clear case for the Galaxy Nexus, although their are numerous case designs for a wide variety of devices.

This case is $9.90 in the US but remarkably still £9.90 in the UK, a tad pricey for a case. But a very high quality case.

The material is scratch resistant and shock absorbant so will bear the brunt of any bumps or drops. There is also overlap of the material over the front and sides of the screen, this means that presumably even if it drops directly onto its screen it will be well protected.

The material is also of a very high quality and feels like it will last the test of time without breaking away. It feels flexible yet firm and fits snugly around the device. The case also has cutouts for all of the buttons meaning the case doesn’t have to be removed to charge the phone or get access to any of its ports, microphones or buttons.

The “andy the android” print is also very cool, there are a number of variations using this character as well as AOKP and RootzWiki cases which have recently become available. Via the Cruzerlite website they also do a “bag of cases” deal in which you receive 3 random cases specific to your device. This is a fantastic deal, you receive 3 random cases for $9.90, a great deal even at £9.90 assuming the price conversion is similar to that of the other cases.

Cruzerlite are a fairly small business and operate via their website. For UK users i recommend ordering via Amazon, I did this and received my order fairly quickly and would definately use them again. If your going to pay the big bucks for a device protect it properly and get yourself a good case.








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