Posts by Joe Levi

Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy". By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video. Read more about Joe Levi here.

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    It seems that every time we hear about "augmented reality" (AR) it's from someone who has a new product they're trying to peddle, which usually takes the form of some hideous looking piece of headwear. Recently, however, consumers are turning to smartwatches rather than eyewear. This is evidenced by the number of available apps for Android Wear compared to Google Glass, especially considering the latter has been available for so much longer. That's what one company is banking on: an augmented reality smartwatch. According to most definitions, "augmented reality" is a technology that ...

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    There are many reasons why you'd want to root your phone, but  an LG G Watch root via a custom ROM? Yup. And it's awesome! Smartwatches powered by Google's Android Wear operating system are starting to show up on wrists across the world. Right now people are starting to get used to the idea of notifications showing up on their watch, and beginning to see the utility of talking back to it to get things done -- even though it still looks a little weird. With a relatively limited number of apps in the Play Store, Power Users everywhere are itching to see what the hardware can do. As such, ...

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    On the Pocketnow Power User so far this season we've talked mainly about hardware. What is the hardware abstraction layer, and why should you care? The Hardware Abstraction Layer (HAL) bridges the gap between hardware and software. Be warned, this topic is very, very geeky! To begin with, the HAL isn't a concept that's unique only to smartphones and tablets. It's been around for a quite a while, but it's implemented differently depending on the environment that you're talking about. Hardware abstraction on an MS-DOS system is very different from that on a Mac, and from a technical ...

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    We were introduced to Project Volta at Google I/O this year. There it was described as a set of new tools and APIs which developers could use to help their apps "run efficiently and conserve power". To save power, we must first understand what's using that power. To that end, Battery Historian was developed. It's a new tool in Android L that lets you "visualize power events over time" to help you understand how apps are using your battery. As developers come to a better understanding of how their apps use power, they can utilize a new job scheduler API to help that app know when tasks and ...

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    "OK Google" is a pretty neat tool. It lets you search for virtually anything -- as long as you're on your homescreen. A recent update to Google Search unlocked that limitation and allowed users to enable OK Google everywhere, even on the lock screen! The update requires Android 4.3+ (or 4.4+, depending on who you ask), it also needs the latest version of the Google Search app and the latest update to Play Services. Head out to the Play Store and make sure you've got all the latest updates installed before you continue. Next, from your homescreen, simply say "OK Google" to bring up the ...

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    In software development there are many different stages of release. Working backwards, most customers use a "final release". As bugs are found in this version of the app, they're patched. When a significant amount of patches are issued, they're usually rolled up into a "Service Pack". Before that version is released to the public, it's run through various different test releases. At each stage, features are completed, bugs are fixed, and performance and stability are improved upon. A "milestone" version is released each time a set of bugs are fixed or features are completed. These are ...

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    In our last episode we talked about the glass that covers our smartphone screens. Today we're diving into the types of displays under that glass, the pros and cons of both types, and which you'll want in your next smartphone or tablet. Touch Screens Screens recognize touch by one of two technologies: resistive or capacitive. Resistive touch screens all but require a stylus or similar device be used to register accurate touches. These are the types of screens that we had back in the Palm, Newton, and Windows Mobile days. They're not terribly expensive to manufacture, but they aren't that ...

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    Project Tango is an undertaking by Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP), formerly a division of Motorola, with the "goal of giving mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion". On the surface that sounds academic and boring, but start to peel away the layers and start looking at potential applications. and some amazing things come to mind. Currently Project Tango is just that, an internal project being worked on by a group inside Google. It doesn't stop there. According to Google's Johnny Lee, the ATAP-Project Tango Team has been working with ...

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    Android L is still a Developer Preview, nothing is set in stone, and who knows what might change before we see a final release later this Fall. In the meantime we're seeing some interesting tidbits surface regarding how the new OS will function, and some pretty significant changes that might be coming. Currently, when you go to the Play Store to download an app, you're presented with a laundry list of permissions an app may ask for. Based on most people we've talked to, the consensus is that users will typically accept everything just to continue past the screen and get on with the ...

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    Android L is still very much a developer preview, but there's one thing power users have been missing more than anything else: Root. With Chainfire away at Google I/O, development on this front slowed to a crawl. Lucky for all of us, Chainfire is back and has updated SuperSU to version 2.01. If you'd like more information about this version of SuperSU, head over to Chainfire's post. Some have claimed that this new version of SuperSU contains the ability to auto-root your Nexus 5 or 2013 Nexus 7. Unfortunately, this is not the case. However, rooting your Android L-powered device isn't ...

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    The HTC One mini 2 is what its name implies, a miniature version of the flagship HTC One M8 - at least it tries to be. That statement carries a lot more than one might surmise. I've previously talked about how people assume and expect a "mini" version of a similarly named flagship to be a miniaturized version of the same -- and are disappointed to discover that it is not. The same is true of the HTC One mini 2 -- except for the disappointment. The HTC One mini 2 is an aluminum-clad smartphone with a super-premium feel, running a great build of Android, and has amazing built-in sound. ...

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    The notification tray in Android holds a wealth of information that's available at a glance. We're not talking about the notification "shade", which can show quick toggles, interactive notifications, and so much more. No, what we're talking about is the bar that runs across the top of your screen. Right now my notification tray is telling me that my Bluetooth radio is turned on (but nothing's connected to it), that my WiFi is connected (with full-bars), that I'm in "airplane mode" (to keep my LTE radio turned off), that my battery is full, and what time it is. That's on my 2013 LTE Nexus 7 ...

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    Google recently released a Developer Preview of its latest version of Android: Android L. Though it's not final code by any stretch of the imagination, we wanted to see how it compares to Android 4.4.4 KitKat - the latest official release of the operating system. We headed over to Google's "L Developer Preview" page, downloaded, and installed Android L build LPV79 to our Nexus 5 (there is also a build for the 2013 Nexus 7, though only for the WiFi version). From there we spent half a day using it as our daily driver, hunting through the various screens to try and find differences and ...

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    Google introduced us to the next version of Android at Google I/O 2014 yesterday: Android L. Unfortunately, we won't have an official release of until "later this Fall", but we were promised a Developer Preview. This morning that preview landed, and we decided to go hands-on. We loaded it up on our Nexus 5, booted up, and took it for a spin. Click play to see what we found, and what you can expect from Android L. Make sure you watch all the way to the end to get a good look at the new boot animation.   If you'd like to give Android L a go on your own device you'll need to be running ...

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    As we've had the opportunity to review devices manufactured by various OEMs, an interesting trend has begun to surface: OEM skins are getting lighter-weight, and a distinctive and bold color scheme has been evolving. We've reviewed the HTC One M8, the One mini 2, and the Desire 816. All of them run modern versions of HTC's Sense UI, and all feature very similar distinctive and bold color theming. We just spent a week with the ASUS PadFone X which runs its own "skin" on top of Android. It too features distinctive and bold colors inside its apps. LG's devices, despite having their own ...

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