Android isn’t perfect: 5 improvements we’d like to see from Google

samsung galaxy s9 one ui review android pie logo easter egg

Android has evolved considerably over the years, introducing new UI redesign and gaining plenty of unique features and optimizations along the way. However, as refined as the modern Android experience is, a lot could still improve or change. With the anticipated release of Android Q this year we thought it’d be good to talk about a few things we’d like to see Google address in its next major OS release.

Better gesture navigations

OEMs such as Apple, Motorola, and OnePlus have all implemented their own takes on gesture navigation and Google followed suit soon after them. The introduction of Android Pie brought gesture navigation natively to the Android OS. It sounded great at first, but if you’ve used Google’s gesture navigation you’ll know it’s pretty awful.

First and foremost, Pie’s gesture navigation doesn’t actually free up any screen real estate, defeating the purpose of gesture controls entirely.

There’s also still a navigation bar at the bottom, so it isn’t even all gestures. The home button is pill-shaped instead of a circle and there’s still a back button, but it only shows up when you’re in an app or essentially anything other than the launcher. The overview or recent apps button is the only button that’s truly gone. This was replaced with a short swipe up from the bottom to launch recent apps and swiping right on the navigation bar became the new way of swapping back and forth between your last two apps.

Android gesture navigation could use a lot of work — a lot of the UI elements just don’t make sense right now

Another reason why Android Pie’s gesture navigations are so bad is some of the gestures and UI elements don’t make sense. I like that I can swipe up to get to my recent apps but I don’t like that I have to perform a long swipe to get straight to my app drawer or swipe up a second time if I only did a short swipe. Despite using it all the time, I still haven’t gotten used to it. Putting the swipe up for recent apps on the right side of the navigation bar and swiping up from the middle to open up the app drawer would be an easy fix for this. This would negate the need for a long swipe to get to the app drawer entirely.

My final big issue is the placement of the “clear all” button on the recent apps screen. Many OEM Android skins give you a clear all button that is accessible no matter where you are within your recent apps. That isn’t the case with Google’s implementation. The clear all button for recent apps isn’t static, and the more apps you have open, the further it moves to the left of the list. It just doesn’t feel intuitive and can be cumbersome if you have a laundry list of recent apps.

Long screenshot and screen recording

Google’s done a great job improving and adding new features to Android over the years. Many features that you used to have to root, flash custom ROMs, or use an OEM skin for are now natively baked into Android. Back in the early days of Android, I would root my device just to get a flashlight toggle and a restart option in the power menu. Nowadays I no longer feel the need to do that, but some are essentials are still missing.

Google has yet to implement the ability to take long screenshots or create screen recordings into Android. OEMs like OnePlus, Huawei, and Samsung have one or both of these features baked in. If you’re on pure Android you’ll have to resort to third-party apps or rooting if you really want them. These are fine options, but having the features built directly into the OS is always a better experience.

Override OEM left-panels with Google feed

HTC’s Blinkfeed and Samsung’s Bixby Home are two well-known examples of left home panels set in place by OEMs. These panels are meant to provide quick information at a glance, but are often bloated and clunky. Most OEMs let you disable the feed if you don’t like it, but you can’t replace it with a different feed of your choice.

I personally enjoy Google’s own feed. It’s clean, provides the information I need, and doesn’t feel clunky or bloated like ones I mentioned. This is one of the main reasons why I prefer using Pixel devices, but it would be great if you could substitute an Android OEMs feed with Google’s.

Improved app permissions

Google’s done a great job of giving users more control over app permissions on Android over the years, but we’re still hoping for more. According to some early leaked builds, Android Q could give us god-like powers over app permissions.

Until the update is official we won’t really know for sure what improvements will be implemented, but one thing we would like to see Google change with app permissions is the ability to grant app permissions temporarily or only while the app is in use. This is great if you only want an app to know your location or use your camera temporarily and would put users with privacy concerns at ease. An app called Bouncer on the Google Play Store does exactly this, but having it built in natively to Android is always better.

 

 

Better sharing interface

If you’ve ever shared anything on Android, you know it’s quite a messy system. Many things about sharing on Android need improvement. I’ll try to keep this as brief as possible and touch on just a few points.

One of the most obvious problems you’ll notice with the sharing UI is that it’s very slow, especially if you have a lot of apps installed. The direct sharing items also don’t load in at the same time as the rest of your apps and the suggested direct share shortcuts seem completely random at times. The options you get for direct share varies from app to app. Sometimes simply reloading the sharing UI can change who or what you can share to.



Another major issue is the inconsistency of the sharing UI across apps. It doesn’t always look the same, because developers can make the UI look however they want. However, even across Google’s own apps the sharing UI isn’t the same. In the examples below you can see how YouTube and the Play Store have a vertical scrolling UI, which is the most common sharing UI you’ll see across Android, but apps like Google Photos and Maps have horizontal scrolling.




Google also needs to have a standard look and placement for the share button. Most of the time it’s that familiar three-dot triangle, but sometimes it can be an arrow, plain text, or a combination of text and a share icon. The share button can pop up at the top of the app, in the middle, on the bottom, or buried in a three-dot menu. You can see some examples down below. Having a standard placement and look for the share button across all apps would make the experience feel more intuitive, especially for users that aren’t as well versed in the Android ecosystem.




This certainly isn’t a be-all-end-all list of everything Google should improve with Android. These are some of the top things we’d like to see addressed. Hopefully with Android Q, Google will straighten some of these things out. The update isn’t too far away, so we’ll find out pretty soon what the company decides to change. Are there any other features or UI changes you desperately want to see come to Android in the future? Let us know about them in the comments. 

Pay what you want for 117.5 hours of cybersecurity training

Pay What You Want: The Complete Cybersecurity Certification Bundle

With high demand and even higher pay, there’s never been a better time to join the cybersecurity field. If you want to start your journey on this lucrative career path, this Complete Cybersecurity Certification Bundle is a solid starting point.

You won’t become a cyber superhero overnight; you need to get certified first. Fortunately, this bundle features over 117 hours of training to prepare you for some of the top cybersecurity certification exams out there.

Across nine courses, you’ll learn the ins and outs of detecting and preventing cybersecurity threats. It covers everything from computer hacking forensics to protecting information systems on an international scale.

If it sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. It includes everything you need to pass the exams and you can work through it all at your own pace.

The Cybersecurity Bundle at a glance:

The Complete Cybersecurity Certification Bundle has a cumulative retail price of nearly $3,000. Lucky for you, you can get all nine courses for whatever price you want. All you have to do is beat the average, which at the time of writing was under $20. Considering most of the courses are $300 or more individually, that’s a pretty solid deal.

If you only want to pay $1, we feel that. You won’t get the full bundle, but you will still get the CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional 2015 course, which is worth $299 on its own. 

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs by 2021. In other words, now is the perfect time to get involved, especially when you’re getting a 99 percent discount on a certification bundle.

The AAPicks team writes about things we think you’ll like, and we may see a share of revenue from any purchases made through affiliate links. To see all our hottest deals, head over to the AAPICKS HUB.

Like this deal? Check out Vault, the best way to secure your online data for just $9.99/month.

Huawei might be working on two new GT smartwatches without Wear OS

Huawei Watch GT weather

Although there are a few Huawei smartwatches featuring Google’s Wear OS platform (like the Huawei Watch and the Huawei Watch 2), the Chinese company decided to go with its own Lite OS for the Huawei Watch GT.

Now, according to WinFuture, Huawei has two more GT watches in the works, both of which supposedly also eschew Wear OS for Lite OS.

The two supposed watches on the way are the Huawei Watch GT Active and the Huawei Watch GT Elegant. The “Active” variant is pictured below in leaked renders:

WinFuture

According to WinFuture, the Active model pictured above will cost 249 euros (~$280), while the Elegant version will be 229 euros (~$257). Originally, the Huawei Watch GT sold for 199 euros (~$224), so presumably, these new models will feature some sort of upgrade to justify the price hike.

Editor’s Pick

Wear OS hasn’t been getting much love lately, with even the launch of the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 chipset not fixing most of the problems people face with the operating system (poor battery life, sluggish performance, etc.). Although Google will likely keep pushing Wear OS as hard as it can, it certainly would help if more companies were adopting the platform — which it seems Huawei is not going to do.

If you’re interested in checking out the best of what Wear OS has to offer at the moment, check out our review for the Fossil Sport.

NEXT: RIP Hangouts for Wear OS wearables

What is ESPN Plus? Everything you need to know

If you’re a big sports fanatic and a lover of the many ESPN cable TV sports channels, there’s a good chance that their recently launched streaming service ESPN Plus might be of interest to you. First launched in April 2018, the service now has over two million subscribers. Like other premium video streaming services including Netflix and Hulu, ESPN Plus is a standalone service; you don’t need to be a subscriber to one of its old-fashioned TV channels to access it. That said, ESPN Plus is meant to be complementary to your existing ESPN channels.

In this article, we will go over what ESPN Plus is, how much the service costs, what devices you can watch it on, and what special features and shows it has.

What is ESPN Plus?

So what exactly is ESPN Plus? In short, ESPN Plus is a service built directly into the ESPN app and works across a multitude of devices with both live and taped coverage of various sports events as well as original shows and specials that are only available on the service. However, it does not feature access to the company’s traditional cable TV shows like SportsCenter.

By the way, ESPN Plus, and all of ESPN for that matter, is owned by Disney. This is one of the first direct-to-consumer streaming services that Disney is launching, and it will be joined by its Netflix competitor, Disney Plus, in late 2019. In fact, Disney CEO Bob Iger hinted recently that when Disney Plus launches, the company could offer a special discounted bundle with ESPN Plus.

Where can I watch ESPN Plus?

 

ESPN Plus is available, again via the standard ESPN app, across Android phones and tablets, the iPhone and iPad, Apple TV, Chromecast, PlayStation, Xbox One, Roku, Oculus Go, and Amazon’s Fire TV & Fire Tablet. If you have a PC, you can also access it via your favorite web browser on the ESPN.com website.

What does ESPN Plus cost?

You can try ESPN Plus at no cost to you with a 7-day free trial. If you like what ESPN Plus offers and would like to continue the service it will cost $4.99 per month or $49.99 if you decide to pay annually. You can sign up for ESPN Plus through the ESPN app or directly from ESPN.com but keep in mind ESPN Plus is currently only available in the United States.

What can I watch on ESPN Plus?

With ESPN Plus you’ll be able to view many live sporting events from MLB, MLS, NHL, UFC, and major tennis events such as the Grand Slam, US Open and Australian Open. Other included sports are boxing, rugby, golf, and you’ll also get access to college football, basketball, and more. You’ll also get access to original ESPN content which includes every episode of 30 for 30, E:60, Draft Academy, O.J.: Made in America, and Kobe: Detail — just to name a few.

Some of the original ESPN Plus shows you can watch on demand include I’ll Take That Bet, which centers on sports betting, The Fantasy Show, which talks about fantasy football, and Always Late with Katie Nolan, a weekly comedy-talk show on sports.

What are some of the other features of ESPN Plus?

Signing up for ESPN Plus means you won’t have to deal with display ads or any pre-roll or post-roll ads on any videos you watch on the ESPN app. The only ads you’ll really run into are the ones that occur during the live program as you would if you were watching it on TV.

Other benefits of ESPN Plus include the ability to pause and rewind live games, full-game replays on demand, and up to five simultaneous streams are allowed per ESPN Plus account. Videos are streamed at HD quality at 60 frames-per-second. As mentioned earlier, ESPN Plus is a complimentary service and won’t satisfy all of your sports needs unless you don’t watch the NFL or NBA. You’ll still need the regular ESPN cable channel to view those games live.

That’s basically the gist of everything you need to know about ESPN Plus and what you’re gaining by signing up for the service. You can read more about ESPN Plus through their official website and their FAQ page should answer any lingering questions you may have. If you decide to give ESPN Plus a try or have tried the service let us know what you think about it by sounding off down below!

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

You can now pre-order the Sony Xperia 1 in the UK

Even though the Sony Xperia 10 and 10 Plus are up for pre-order, the same couldn’t be said of the flagship Xperia 1. That changes today, at least in the U.K. — residents can now pre-order the Xperia 1 through Clove Technology for 849 pounds (~$1,104).

The Xperia 1 is available in black, purple, gray, and white. U.K. residents will have to wait a bit to play around with the phone — pre-orders will start shipping at the end of May. That said, you can import the Xperia 1 through Clove, so those in other countries aren’t left in the cold.

Editor’s Pick

Announced during MWC 2019, the Xperia 1 features a 6.5-inch OLED display with 4K (3,840 x 1,644) resolution and an incredibly tall 21:9 aspect ratio. The display also supports HDR, which should make movie-watching a treat when also taking the stereo speakers into account.

Elsewhere, the Xperia 1 sports three rear 12-megapixel cameras with varying focal lengths — one standard lens, a second telephoto lens, and a third super wide-angle lens. The phone also features a front-facing 8MP sensor, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 855 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of expandable storage, a 3,330mAh battery, and Android 9 Pie out of the box.

If the Xperia 1 is too rich for your blood, the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus are stylistically similar and cost almost half as much. You can find out more about the Xperia 10 and 10 Plus’ pricing here.

Affiliate disclosure: We may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. The compensation received will never influence the content, topics or posts made in this blog. See our disclosure policy for more details.

Get money for playing on your phone with the PUBG Mobile Club Open 2019

pubg mobile android game moto g6

Earlier today, developer Tencent Games announced the PUBG Mobile Club Open (PMCO) 2019. The upcoming global tournament features a prize pool of over $2 million, and you can get a slice of that if you think you and your team are good enough.

Editor’s Pick

The PMCO 2019 is divided into two events — the Spring Split and the Fall Split. Each of the two events has its own prize pool and Grand Finals, with the Spring Split’s Grand Finals taking place in July 2019. The Fall Split’s Grand Finals takes place in December 2019.

If you want to register for the PMCO 2019, here are some rules and requirements:

  • All players must be 16 years and above as of the tournament start date to participate
  • All players under local legal age of majority must have parental consent to participate
  • Age restriction and rules will be applied per legal age regulation in each region
  • At least three players from each team must be from the region they are competing to represent
  • All participating players must be at least the rank of Platinum at the end of the prior season

You can register for the tournament and check out the rest of the rules and requirements at this link. Registration for the Spring Split is open from March 8 through March 18, while registration for the Fall Split is open sometime in August.

Continued Conversations is making its way to Smart Displays

Google Home Hub

In the years since the original Google Home was released, the smart speaker platform has received several new features. One of the most popular of these is Continued Conversations. With it, you don’t have to repeatedly state “Ok Google / Hey Google” after every command or query.

Unfortunately, despite Smart Displays being very close in nature to Google Homes, the platform lacked the feature. Thankfully, Google is bringing Continued Conversations to the Home Hub and other Smart Displays (via Android Central).

As you can see from the video, after the Assistant is done answering you, it will remain in the top left corner of the display. If you want to ask something else, you can voice your query without having to use Google’s hot phrases.

The Google Assistant will stay on your screen and continue to listen for additional commands for roughly seven seconds after the initial answer.

Google confirmed to Android Central that Continued Conversations is rolling out now to all Smart Displays. The update should make its way to every device in the next couple of days that are set to English.

Editor’s Pick

If you want to turn off Continued Conversations, you will need to disable the feature across your entire account. You can find the option to do so from within the Google Home app. From there, go to Settings > Assistant tab > Continued Conversation and toggle the item off.

What do you think about Continued Conversations? What other features do you wish Google would add to the Smart Display platform? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Metal Slug Infinity now available for pre-registration on Android

Announced back in October 2018, Metal Slug Infinity is now up for pre-registration on the Google Play Store. Metal Slug Infinity is the latest entry in the long-running Metal Slug series and might be familiar to eagle-eyed mobile gamers.

If you’ve played previous Metal Slug games, you know what to expect from Metal Slug Infinity: a side-scrolling, 2D shooter that includes plenty of explosions. Where the game set itself apart is its hands-off approach to gameplay.

South Korean developer Ekkorr Games, which also developed Endless Frontier Saga 2 and other mobile titles, implemented its “idle” gameplay mechanic into Metal Slug Infinity. That means you don’t fully control characters and vehicles — you only carry out simple actions like applying buffs and other simple tap controls.


Most of your attention is toward micro-managing your troops and equipment, which is where Metal Slug Infinity’s other gameplay mechanic comes in. Based on the trailer, it looks like the game features an ally battle system and lets you collect helicopters, tanks, fighter jets, troops, and more. Once you assemble your army, you go out and battle other armies.

Editor’s Pick

You even see a difference in Metal Slug Infinity’s art style, which looks hand-drawn. That compares to previous Metal Slug games, which feature sprites. According to Siliconera, that’s because Ekkorr Games wants to attract people who aren’t Metal Slug fans.

Even with the gameplay and visual differences, Metal Slug Infinity sounds like a re-skinned version of Metal Slug Attack, which itself was similar to Metal Slug Defense. We’ll have to wait and see until Metal Slug Infinity’s release to see whether those similarities are apparent in gameplay.

Until then, you can pre-register for the game at the link below.

These smartphone trade-in stats will probably make Galaxy S9 owners cry

Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone in sunrise gold in a person's hand.

  • The smartphone trade-in market is unforgiving, with major drops in value not long after purchase.
  • The Samsung Galaxy S line is especially poor when it comes to long-term value.
  • However, there are always gold mines to find if you know where to look.

Many of us buy smartphones knowing that, within a year or two, we will resell that phone on the used market. Even if we decide not to sell it ourselves, we’ll likely trade it in when we buy an upgraded model.

BankMyCell just published a slew of new data pertaining to the smartphone trade-in market, including both Android and iOS devices. As one would expect, the data proves that smartphones lose a lot of their trade-in value a year after they launch. However, you might be surprised by just how much.

In the cases of last year’s major flagships, the Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, the phones’ overall values dropped by nearly 60 percent in just one year’s time. In other words, a buyer would have paid $720 for a new Galaxy S9 in March of 2018 but now that device would only earn them an average of $290 on a trade-in.

BankMyCell

What’s more, smartphone trade-in values drop as soon as you “drive it off the lot,” so to speak. Within the first month of opening your brand new Galaxy smartphone, it loses about 42 percent of its original retail value when it comes to trades.

Editor’s Pick

This is comparatively worse than the trade-in values for iPhones. The iPhone X, for example, launched at a retail price of $999, but by the time the iPhone XS rolled around its value dropped to $690, or by nearly 31 percent. That’s about half as much of a drop as the Galaxy S9 experienced over a similar length of time.

BankMyCell builds its data off various trade-in values offered by different companies and then delivers an average. It’s important to note this because some companies will offer exceptional trade-in deals that will up the value of any given phone substantially. For example, Samsung is giving $550 worth of trade-in credits for the Samsung Galaxy S9 right now if you put it towards a Samsung Galaxy S10. That’s twice as high as what BankMyCell claims here, and also over $100 more than what most sellers are asking for the device on Swappa.

In other words, it pays to shop around when it comes to smartphone trade-in values.

Click here to see all the data BankMyCell has when it comes to trades.

NEXT: Why you should (and why you shouldn’t) buy a used smartphone

Galaxy S10 teardown reveals Samsung shameful USB-C port soldering

YouTube

Popular DIY YouTuber Jerry Rig Everything just posted the Samsung Galaxy S10 teardown video. While it’s a little painful to watch such an expensive device run through JRE’s torture, the teardown does reveal some interesting aspects of the latest Samsung superphone.

If you’re just interested in watching the video, you can check it out below.

However, if you’re just interested in the highlights, keep reading!

Right from the get-go, opening the Samsung Galaxy S10 is a real pain. Much like other all-glass phones, you need to use a heat gun to loosen up all the adhesive before you separate the “glass sandwich.” However, this practice is becoming very common, so it isn’t that surprising.

One thing that really riles JRE up, though, is when he pulls the motherboard out. Unfortunately, Samsung decided to permanently solder the USB-C port to the motherboard itself. Normally, replacing a faulty USB-C port would cost you all of $15, but since it’s permanently stuck to the motherboard here, that repair becomes basically impossible. You’d have to buy a whole replacement motherboard to fix a faulty USB-C port now.

Editor’s Pick

Going deeper, JRE finds another repairability nightmare, which is the ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor. The sensor itself is inaccessible without removing the screen, a procedure which will almost always result in breakage. Sure enough, after he accesses the sensor to have a look at it, the display no longer works. This means that if your fingerprint sensor goes awry in your Galaxy S10, you’ll need a whole new screen, not just a new sensor.

While right-to-repair activists are gaining a lot of ground, there are clearly a lot of decisions still being made by OEMs specifically to counter repairability. The USB-C port here is a perfect example of how something could have been designed modular like every other Samsung Galaxy phone but wasn’t. It’s very disappointing.

What do you think? Do you care about repairability with your smartphones? Let us know in the comments.

NEXT: Samsung Galaxy S10 smashes DisplayMate records, gets highest ever A+ grade