OxygenOS Update Released for OnePlus X

For you blessed few who have actually got your hands on the OnePlus X, today is a good day for you.  OnePlus has announced in their user forums that a new update to OxygenOS is now available for your device.  The update is build 2.1.3 and it is primarily focused on solving some SD card issues that have plagued the new, budget friendly device.

We’ve heard your feedback and have spent some time focusing on improving the user experience for SD card. We are not done yet so please expect more updates and feature additions to come in the next couple of OTAs, but here’s what’s included in this one:

  • SD card related improvements including:
    • UX improvements
    • exFAT SD card support
    • Ability to move apps to and from SD card
    • Fixed reboots caused by removing SD card in an active state

This is certainly good news and users of the OnePlus X should get this OTA update quickly.  It is recommended that you update to it as soon as possible.

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Review of Project Fi – Ready For Prime Time

I have been an AT&T customer since 1997.  The only time I wasn’t actively using a mobile device on AT&T was when I lived in England and even then I kept my account so when I did move back I would be able to get a SIM and up and going within minutes.  When the opportunity came up to review Project Fi, I was unsure because after such a long time with one carrier, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to bother with the messiness of switching.  So I met the review halfway.  I kept my old number on AT&T and when I set up Project Fi on my Nexus 6, I requested a new number.  The thought was, if things went pear shaped, I could simply shut off the Fi service and nobody would be the wiser (as I had just forwarded my old AT&T number to my new Fi number).

I will be cancelling my AT&T service at the end of this month.

After using Project Fi for the past month, in multiple locations throughout the United States, I have been so overwhelmingly pleased with the service and quality of data throughput that I will not be looking back.  Indeed in some locations, I have had virtually no signal on AT&T while I have had 3G coverage with Fi.  Add to that a powerful and informative dedicated app along with a pricing model that just makes sense, you have what I think is the model that should be scaring the poop out of the major carriers.

What Is Project Fi?

I’ll start by giving everyone a little bit of background on Project Fi, a side project that Google started last year.  It is what is known as a Mobile Network Virtual Operator, or MNVO. Google doesn’t actually own the cell towers or physical equipment. Instead, they purchase service from an established carrier and rebrand it.  In the case of Google, the bought service from both T-Mobile and Sprint, assuring that they would have coverage for their customers.  This is not a new concept here in the United States or in Europe but what makes Project Fi unique is how Google has gone about doing this with the Nexus 6, Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P.

In those three devices, Google has built in the ability to switch between the T-Mobile GSM network and the Sprint Spark (CDMA) network on-the-fly.  Which ever has the stronger signal in the area you are in at the time wins.  Doing this is nothing short of engineering gymnastics. To get a device to switch antennas and carrier modes actively is extremely difficult.  Then Google went one step further.  In the Nexus devices it will switch between these two carriers and Wi-Fi.  So now if you have strong, good quality Wi-Fi it will leverage that for your calls and if that signal starts to drop, it will seamlessly hand the call of to one of the carriers so you don’t lose the call.  You, as a user, don’t have to do anything to make this happen.

This monumental engineering effort is why you don’t see a generic Project Fi SIM for every device.  To really take advantage of the service, you have to have the multiple array of antennas in the device and the software engineered for the handoffs between the carriers and Wi-Fi.  That is no small feat.  You can also see where there is a lot that could go wrong with this process and user experience and call quality would suffer.  That has not been the case at all since I have moved to Fi and in fact I would contend that data throughput and voice call quality has been superior to my other carrier everywhere I have been with the service.

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Google Play Books Update Continues Comics Support

Earlier this month Google released a significant update to Google Play Books that greatly improved the comic book reading experience within the eBook reading app.  Basically that update brought a much improved reading of comics that allows you in landscape mode to quickly and easily move between panels and follow the story line.  Today another update has come out for the app that further improves the user experience when reading comics, especially when you are moving between books in a series.

The update to Google Play Books is build 3.7.23 for those keeping score at home and is now in the Google Play Store.  If you have the app already installed on your device, you should see the OTA update in the next day or so.  If you are a reader of comics then you should certainly get this update installed quickly.

Google Play Books – Free (In-App Purchases) – Download Now

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Google To Make $1m in Donations from Android Pay Tap and Pays

Google wants you to use Android Pay and through the rest of this year, when you use the tap-and-pay app, Google will contribute to special needs educations projects here in the United States.  How is that for incentive to give the app a try on your NFC enabled Android device?  The announcement came on the official Android blog and basically how it works is that on any transaction you make and pay with using Android Pay, the company will donate $1 to special needs education projects.  The cap is set at $1 million total.

Teachers spend nearly $500 out of their own pocket each year to outfit their classrooms with enriching projects and programs. Since each student learns differently, let’s support special needs classrooms across the country to make education more inclusive for every kid.

This type of promotion hits home for me personally.  Both of my sisters are educators and I have several friends who are special needs educators.  Chances are you know someone who is in education or likely someone who is in special needs education.  You can read more about the program that Google is supporting here.

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Nexus 6 32GB Only $289 At NewEgg Today

If you have been looking at getting a Nexus 6, head over to NewEgg today.  Right now they have the 32GB version of the device in stock for only $288.99.  That is a 56% savings off the original price of the Google flagship device from last year.  The version that the online retailer is offering is in white and there is no other color option and to top it off you will get free standard shipping on your order.

To give everyone a reminder, the Nexus 6 is powered by the Snapdragon 805 processor and coupled with 3GB of RAM and has 32GB of storage (it is not expandable with an SD card).  The display is a 5.96″ 1440 x 1960 display with about 493 PPI.  When you order the unit from NewEgg it will come with Android Lollipop as that was the original build of this device but you can upgrade it to Android Marshmallow and gain all the benefits of that great version of Android.

Nexus 6 32GB in White – SALE $288.99 – NewEgg

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CyanogenMod Starts Marshmallow Nightly Builds

CyanogenMod, the independent developer who has created Android builds for a multitude of devices including the OnePlus One, has announced on their blog that they have started rolling out CM13, their Android Marshmallow based image.  The updates are a part of what they call nightlies which means that every night they will be releasing an update to the build for developers and those with a sense of adventure to try.  Currently the nightlies are being released for the OnePlus One, Nexus 7, LG G4, LG GPad 7.0, LG G3 (Verizon), Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and the Moto X 2014.

In the post, CyanogenMod indicates that the plan is to release a formal build (what they call a Snapshot) in January so if you do not want to unlock your device & bootloader, flash the device yourself nightly and deal with backups, you can simply wait until January and you will get an OTA update from CM12.1 to CM13.  Doing the nightlies is really aimed for those who can and are willing to beta test as this is very much a beta build. If you are not up to the task, don’t install it.  There will be bugs and it will impact your daily use of your device in some cases.

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OnePlus 2 Available Black Friday With No Invite

If you have been craving a OnePlus 2 but haven’t got your hands on an invite, this week could be your week.  The Chinese manufacture has taken to Twitter to let everyone know that starting November 27th through the 30th you can order a OnePlus 2 without having an invitation.  They are terming it as “Unlimited” and fundamentally, it speaks volumes to the challenge that OnePlus has created for itself with their invitation system.

Like the OnePlus One, the company rolled out an invitation purchasing system for the OnePlus 2 announced this summer.  When I wrote a post outlining what the company needed to do to make this new flagship successful, I pointed out that a key to the success would be a smarter and far smoother roll out of this invitation system for this new device.  It has been anything but smooth and frankly, given the lack of some key features of the OnePlus 2, sales have not been exactly stellar. So to make up for it in a way, they are suspending the invite system for Black Friday so you can get your hands on one of these devices without having to wait for an invite.

No indication on how long you will have to wait for the device however.

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HTC One A9 Security Update Rolling Out

HTC is making good on their promise and keeping the new One A9 up to date with security fixes.  Just three weeks after Google released the latest update to Android Marshmallow, unlocked US-based One A9 owners are getting the latest update rolled out to their phones via an OTA update.  It is a far cry from other vendors, including HTC themselves on other devices, that take months to roll out a security update.

If you are in the US and have a One A9, the update was approved over the weekend and has started rolling out.  How fast it will take for your device to see it is not clear but it should be pretty quick.  HTC doesn’t have the same staged roll out process as Google does on their Nexus devices and second, quite frankly, there are not a lot of One A9’s in the wild.  My guess is you should see it by mid-week if you haven’t already (but that’s my opinion, not fact).

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