February 26, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Mobile World Congress is happening right now. Chances are your FaceGramTwitterBook Plus feeds are being spammed with all the exciting announcements—everything from Sony’s new devices to Samsung and HTC, and that’s not all! There’s a good chance you missed something or have Kelly Bundyed it. That’s when you hear too much stuff and you loose the older information as it falls right out of your brain.
There is no need to fear because XDA Developer TV Producer Extraordinaire Jordan has scoured the web, RSS feeds, Social Media feeds, YouTube, and a Taco Bell Breakfast menu to compile all the information you need to know about what has been announced at this year’s Mobile world Congress. So, pull up a chair and check out this video.
It’s highly likely that all Sony smartphone or tablet users here on XDA have heard of Flashtool by XDA Recognized Developer Androxyde. It’s a great tool, which allows you to restore your Xperia to stock state, root it, unlock the bootloader, flash a kernel, and do basically everything else that’s needed to enjoy the custom ROM world.
Flashtool works on three platforms, including Windows which needs external drivers to successfully access the flash mode. These drivers were incorporated Flashtool, but eventually became outdated and out of sync with the new Flashtool releases. Androxyde therefore decided to release the driver pack separately. With help of XDA Recognized Developer DooMLoRD, the Flashtool team provides a new version of drivers that should help you to use Flashtool to backup or restore your Sony Xperia device. There are some issues with Windows 8 (surprise, surprise), but they have been resolved and the information to do so is in the thread’s OP.
These versatile drivers can be found in the original thread, which is housed in the Cross-Device Development Projects for Sony Devices forum. If you own a Sony device, don’t hesitate to go there and grab a copy. Don’t forget to get a newest version of Flashtool while you’re at it, which can be found in its thread.
January 31, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
Android 4.4.2,for the AT&T Galaxy S4 and Note 3 has been leaked! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is the announcement that the Sony Xperia Z1 received a maintenance release and the HTC One KitKat release for the US carrier versions has been delayed! That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an Xposed Tuesday video for HKThemeManager, Jordan reviewed the RAVPower RP-WD01, and TK gave us an Android App Review of ZDLock. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
January 12, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
The spectacle that is the International CES show has come to an end for yet another year. While there are bound to be more Android announcements at the upcoming Mobile World Congress, there are still some things announced this week to look forward to—and some things that were announced that you won’t look forward to.
Let’s start with the unexciting. The mobile device manufacturer with a name that is not pronounced how it is spelled, Huawei, released an updated version of the Ascend Mate phone. Adding in 4G LTE connectivity, the creatively named follow-up, Ascend Mate 2 4G sits squarely in the middle of the road. With a Mediatek chip running four cores and sporting a 6.1” 720p screen, this device won’t be making the list of juggernaut phones for 2014. As a favor to you, we got hands on with the device to show you what you won’t be missing.
To follow in this pattern, let’s talk about the LG G Flex. While the G Flex has been announced and available internationally for a while now, LG announced US carrier versions. As the name implies, this device is flexible and sports a curved design. This devices still disappointingly rocks Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, and is really nothing more than a bent LG G2. However, we can’t blame LG, as they were not the only ones who think the future of consumer electronics is bending your old products.
To be honest, we are a little disappointed by this company’s announcements. Sony has made some great devices, and unfortunately they are content with just making some small tweaks. This year they released a duo of phones: the Xperia Z1S and the shrunken Z1 Compact. If you shorten the name, you could call it the Z1C—though Sony won’t call it that, and you have a familiar naming convention. Not only is the naming convention similar, so is the approach to product design: Take an existing device and tweak it. The Z1S is Sony’s attempt at capturing some of the delicious US market share. The device will only be available with T-Mobile. The Z1S is basically a Z1 made of plastic with pre-installed Sony apps, like the PlayStation app. The Z1 Compact is the Z1 only smaller. And since it also features a 720p resolution on its smaller screen, the screen density goes down. Some say the screen is better than the bigger brothers, but that’s in the eye of the beholder. If you want to know more about Sony’s devices check out our video.
Sony is not the only one to announce a hardware “refresh.” Android device powerhouse Samsung released newer versions of the Samsung Galaxy Camera, a new big Note, and a trio of new Galaxy Tabs. The tablet updates are all Pros: The Note Pro 12.2, the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, 10.1 and 8.4. These tablets introduce a new navigation idea called Magazine UI, which reminds us of Windows Phone live tiles. There was a lot of information about these devices. And since a picture is worth a thousand words, check out our video to learn even more.
Perhaps the most exciting announcement of CES 2014 turned out not to be a device at all, but rather a mobile chipset. Nvidia announced their new 192-core Tegra K1 chip. This Tegra chip features the same architecture as Nvidia’s desktop GPUs, while sipping only 5 watts. This allows for some tremendous eye candy. To check out some of that eye candy, check out the video.
A big thing this year was the so called wrist revolution. There were many smartwatches at this year’s event. From the LG LifeBand Touch, which is a better fitness tracking device than smartwatch, to the stylish new MetaWatch and huge Neptune Pine; smartwatches might be the next big thing. Our favorite from this year is possibly the svelte all-in-one smartwatch, the Omate TrueSmart. Check out our videos to learn more about the different type of smartwatches.
Video Courtesy of Twildottv
Video Courtesy of Twildottv
Video Courtesy of Twildottv
Another CES has come and gone. And while there was some news of impending mobile devices, nothing really stands out and the must have device of this year. However, don’t think that means there will be no good smartphone releases this year. You will just have to wait for them. They may be announced at Mobile World Congress or some other event. We wait eagerly for the next must have device to be announced, so save your money, and join us. Just don’t hold your breath.
January 8, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
At the 2014 International CES, Sony released two phones. The phones are similar and share similar names. These devices are the Sony Xperia Z1S and Xperia Z1 Compact. The Xperia Z1S is locked to T-Mobile to try and help Sony’s US market penetration, while the Xperia Z1 Compact is, well, more compact.
XDA Developer TV Producer Jordan was on site and got his hands on the Xperia triplets: the Z1, Z1S, and Z1 Compact. Jordan sat down and talked with the folks and Sony. And in this video, he shares what he learned, while showing off the two new devices and how they all share basically the same base design. Check out this video to see what the newest Xperia devices look like.
International CES 2014 has begun, we’ve talked about Nvidia’s exciting announcement and the entrance of Android into automobiles, but there is a bigger overarching trend when it comes to mobile devices. That trend is wearables.
Wearables are not new. We’ve had them for a while—everything from the Pebble smartwatch to the Sony Smartwatches, and even Google Glass. However this year, wearables are blending and merging in their functions. READ ON »
I am, and have always been, an early adopter of a lot of things, particularly when it comes to technology. My cell phone voyage started back in the year 2000 with a Nokia 5110. Back then, only a handful of people had phones, and seeing someone on the street with one was a somewhat rare sight. Nowadays, the same cannot be said. Cell phones have become a massive commodity—one that gets a lot of attention, and certainly one that is likely one of the most profitable industries in the world today (in the tech sector anyways).
Every Joe Schmuck and Jane Doe sport the latest Galaxy devices or one of Apple’s latest iconic iPhones (just to mention a few manufacturers). Sure, they all have a somewhat interesting appeal, and many of them are loaded with more unique functions and capabilities that (in theory) make life a lot easier. However, looking at the overall market and trying to overlay an innovation line through the timeline from the early 2000′s (when Nokia reigned supreme) ’til today, we can easily notice a few trends that are worrying and don’t necessarily correlate with what anyone would expect from “progress” or “development.”
Going back to the very beginning of my article, I mentioned owning a dinosaur of a phone, the Nokia 5110. The device was a jewel, and it did exactly what it needed to do (and far more). The device was relatively cheap to get with a 2-3 year agreement. So, the device manufacturer (again, in this particular case, Nokia) knew that in order to have a good customer base, the devices needed to last that long. After all, not everyone could spend $400-600 USD on a phone upgrade while still being locked in the middle of a contract, nor were they willing to do so either.
Nokia designed the 5100 series with a few crucial engineering concepts in mind: good battery, reliable, easy to service, and durable. I had my device for the length of my contract before I decided to upgrade (mainly due to swapping carriers). I have to admit that it must have been one of the best cell phones I have ever had the pleasure of using. Not because of the usage per se, but rather how the device gave me 0 issues in the course of 3 years of ownership. Needless to say, the thing was built to last, as the body was virtually indestructible (exaggerating a tad here, but it was a tough device). When I upgraded, I went with a Nokia 8210. They had done a good job because with their mindset, they created a device that prompted me to want to see what else they could come up a few years down the line—all that without compromising my ability to enjoy the one I currently had. Ah, those were the days.
Fast forward to 2007 (big jump, I know). The iPhone was released and the (back then) current king of smartphones, Windows Mobile HTC devices and Blackberry, were dethroned. Because of silly mistakes, loads of bugs, and a simple yet effective marketing strategy to get people to buy more, the iPhone 1G sees a successor not much later down the line. Seeing how many other manufacturers were now jumping into the bandwagon, stable and decent cell phone manufacturers saw themselves in dire need to release more products in a shorter timespan. This was primarily done to keep up with their competitors, who were quickly gaining market share due to shorter intervals between new products. The next thing that happened (and still does to this day), new models are released every 6-9 months, each one promising to be “better” than their predecessor(s). This last statement is the cornerstone of this entire article. Why are manufacturers releasing devices that are NOT designed to be the best they have to offer? It isn’t that they develop new tech for newer versions. Rather, they make enough (in)significant changes to the existing one, such that it can be labeled the “next best thing.”Does any of this sound familiar?
I myself am an engineer, as many of you are as well (or studying to become). It honestly makes my blood boil when I consider the engineering teams behind the product development of some of these devices. No longer are devices durable. Rather, they have gone entirely to the other end of the spectrum and have become practically disposable. I simply cannot believe that a $500-1000 USD item becomes “irreparable.” Product design basics dictate that any engineered product is designed to have a certain life expectancy under normal conditions, tear, and wear, and even leave some leeway for accidents. If products need repair, they should be perfectly serviceable by the manufacturer without having to charge the consumer exorbitant amounts of money to get the product back in working order. Needless to say, whenever a phone does break this day and age, sending it in for repairs is a fruitless ordeal due to the fact that more often than not, the device will be deemed as “not repairable” due to directions coming from engineering design teams.
Make the world a better place through the application of science? That is what product engineering should be about. Squeezing every last drop of sweat over your own design and making sure that you put your very best efforts into making something that people will have for years (not months) to come is what every engineering company should strive for. Unfortunately, this was quickly replaced with “ooh, look how shiny this new toy is,” which is then followed by “oh, your old one? pfft That is so 3 months ago…. you won’t get two pennies for it on eBay, and don’t even think about repairing it.”
We as consumers have allowed these companies to throw basic engineering practices out the window so that they can squeeze more juice out of us. Now, I have no issues with companies trying to make money. Hell, that is what they do after all. But when greed takes over your most basic principles, I simply have no sympathy. I still recall our friend XDA Senior Recognized Developer AdamOutler doing an unboxing of the new Droid Razr when it came out. His words have been stuck in my head ever since. “Motorola made this device to be disposable.” Why? What was the point of making the device “disposable?” Why did such an important part of engineering a new product (ease of service) gets tossed aside like this? Would it kill you to make your device fixable? Another example: I tried to fix the digitizer of my HTC Titan a few days ago, but ended up destroying the LCD entirely. Why would there be any need to superglue both LCD and digitizer and superglue that combo to the device’s body? To keep them in place you say? There are small, low profile screws that will do the job just as well without jeopardizing the serviceability of the device or its overall design (read: they will not make it any thicker).
The entire world has been sucked into a game that the companies play on a large scale. They are trying to see just how much they can shove down our throats, all while expending the least amount of effort in doing so. These practices not only have the effects mentioned earlier, but they can also have dangerous consequences (bulging exploding battery of SGS2 devices anyone?). The core activities here on XDA-Developers actually somewhat put a damper on this, as the allure of “a new OS version exclusive to a device” is now mitigated. But unfortunately, software is just but a small part of the overall equation.
Next time you are out there shopping for a cell phone, just think about a very important thing that goes beyond specs or pretty colors. Just think about how well the product you are about to purchase was engineered. Let that be your deciding factor, and don’t simply fall in line with the rest of the masses who will jump at anything shiny like fish in heat. There are manufacturers out there that still care about trying to keep their core engineering values. To these companies, kudos. To the ones like HTC, which used to be like this (my HTC Wallaby that I bought in 2003 and that has been through hell and back still works), look at your early years and try again. Get off the path you are in right now because you will lose this race. And to the companies that simply don’t give two flying feathers about engineering, progress, and making the world a better place (looking at you Apple), I sincerely hope that your lack of engineering values comes back with a vengeance and bites you where the sun doesn’t shine.
If I have to choose between a phone that is 0.0001 mm thick but that will break upon looking at it without any way to fix it or my old 5110, I’ll take my old Nokia any day of the week. At least, that has engineering at heart.
November 23, 2013 By: Samantha
Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen some very exciting news and announcements from OEMs and telecom providers regarding Android 4.4 KitKat rollout schedules. Among them, we saw Sony share details on the first raft of Xperia devices slated to receive the update. The announcement wasn’t met with just smiles, however, as many Xperia users have voiced their confusion, anger, and disappointment over the selection of devices Sony has decided to allow into the KitKat party.
If you found yourself disappointed before, hold your horses. The initial announcement only showcased the first raft of devices, which only means that there will be a second raft. This is evident with Sony’s recent update to the Xperia SP‘s support page, which now proudly brandishes the KitKat-flavored Android mascot along with the words ‘Future Version: Android 4.4 (KitKat). Although not an explicit announcement, it’s pretty much a dead giveaway of things to come in the very near future.
As for users of the Xperia T, TX, V and ZR, you may have to wait a bit longer to see if you’ll be catching the second wave. Although the respective support pages also shows the Android 4.4 icon, the accompanying words “Under Investigation: Android 4.4 (KitKat)” are a bit of a dampener. This is somewhat expected for the 2012 devices, as Sony would definitely have to investigate whether these devices will be capable and compatible with a version of Android that’s more than just changes to aesthetics and functionality. That said, we have to wonder why the ZR has also been left out (for now).
Nevertheless, this is great news, and hopefully we’ll be seeing more confirmation from Sony soon. With greater clarity on Sony’s update schedule, what are your thoughts and concerns? Which devices will be on the second raft? And will there be a third? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
November 14, 2013 By: Samantha
It’s pretty obvious that over the past couple of months, Sony has been increasing their support for open-source development not only for Xperia line of devices, but also the various accessories such as the Smartwatch 1 and Smartwatch 2, and their Smart Imaging Stand. And it seems as though Sony isn’t stopping there, as they just recently added support for their stereo Bluetooth headset SBH50 and the Smart Bluetooth Handset SBH52.
If you weren’t aware of these accessories, the SBH50 is in essence a wireless bluetooth headset that connects to your device—wireless headphones, so to speak. As for the SBH52, it serves as a ‘secondary’ voice and sound transmitter wirelessly connected to your phone, so rather than holding a massive phone next to your ear during conversation, you can hold the SBH52 instead. Interesting.
With the new APIs, developers interested in these accessories will be able to create app extensions on the connected devices, much like on their Smartwatches. This also allows developers to emulate these accessories, in the absence of one, to test app extensions. Additionally, Sony has updated their API code example, SampleSensorExtension, which provides information on sensors in certain accessories, aiding in app extension development involving sensors.
If you would like to learn more or interested in Sony’s Add-on SDK in general, head over to the Sony Developer’s announcement post.
We’d like to think that temperature control is the least of our problems when it comes to our smartphones and tablets. It’s a factor that the majority, if not all, of the large manufacturers refuse to acknowledge—instead preferring to tout form, power, and performance. So when we do CPU-intensive activities, such as playing games, or when the weather’s hotter than usual on a particular day, we don’t expect our devices to usually heat up to such a degree.
To manage such problems, Sony has Thermanager, a ‘thermal management solution’ for Xperia devices with binaries that were previously released through their Developer’s Portal. An issue with this was developers weren’t given the flexibility and freedom to customize, improve, or analyze the behavior of the thermal management. This then hindered possible fixes and solutions to thermal-related problems, which were not properly addressed otherwise.
Sony decided to address this issue by releasing the source code of Thermanager to the general public. Made available through their Github, this source release is yet another step that Sony has taken inline with their developer-friendly reputation. So if you’re a developer looking to build on the existing thermal solutions, be sure to check their information post.
September 30, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
The Sony Add-on SDK 2.0 has been released, and it brings new APIs for the Sony SmartWatch 2 and Xperia Z1. That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article about an easy rooting Toolkit makes rooting simple on Sony devices. In more Sony news, he talks about the guide on how to port the Sony small apps and task switcher to CM10.1.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this weekend on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Jayce released a video answering his frequency asked questions, and later he released a video talking about how to combat procrastination. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
September 25, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
XDA:DevCon 2013 is over. Without the great support from our sponsors, the event would not have been nearly as interesting or informative. One sponsor that really stepped up was Sony. Not only did they attend and bring their latest goods for ogling and testing, but they also brought three interesting presentations of our enjoyment.
Their first presentation Karl-Johan Dahlstrom (head of Developer Relations at Sony Mobile) gave was titled “How Sony Supports and Works With Independent Developers.” Part of Karl-Johan’s job is bridging internal software development with external developers, innovation, and knowledge sharing. Above all, he is responsible for fostering co-innovation through tech and developer mindshare. In his presentation, he talks about and gives examples of how independent developers and Sony can, and have, collaborate through different opportunities and open initiatives. Finally, he talks about the initiatives and activities we do to support independent developers and opportunities ahead.
In their second presentation Sony brought Alin Jerpelea. He and other developers started “Free Xperia Project” trying to offer software alternatives, like CyanogenMod, for Sony devices. In his presentation “Android on Legacy Devices – Use It or Lose It,” he talks about how Android support on legacy devices is demanded by a lot of people because manufacturers rarely release Android updates. Developers and members at XDA work hard to support devices on new Android versions. Alin ponders how much should we push those devices. Is it enough to have the latest Android version booted, or do we want more? Alin and the audience talk about whether or not working to get new Android versions on old devices is worth the time. Check out the video to see what they have to say.
Finally, Sony provided one more presentation. Sony Developer Pal Szasz created the CHKBUGREPORT tool for internal needs, and then open sourced the tool for everyone’s enjoyment. In his presentation “CHKBUGREPORT: Open Source Bug Reporting Tool,” Pal talks about how the tool allows you to get good information out of bug reports. Android is the world’s most popular mobile OS, and developers need a good way to deal with bug reports. To see if this former Sony internal tool is right for you, check out this video.
Again, we want to thank Sony for attended and providing us with three excellent presentations. If you want to see more presentations or get a copy of the presentation slides, visit the XDA:DevCon Presentations page.
September 20, 2013 By: Jimmy McGee
Apparently, unlocking the Sony Xperia Z1 Bootloader breaks the camera. That and much more is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this week. Included in this week’s news is an article about Framaroot bringing One-Click Root to various devices and news about root and write protection bypass for the Moto X and the Droid Ultra.
Jordan talks about the other videos released this week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer Kevin released a video talking about understanding Xposed Framework, Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler did an XDA Unboxing of the new Nexus 7 (2013), and TV Producer TK gave us an Android App Review of ViPER4Android. Pull up a chair and check out this video.