Action Launcher brings Oreo features to older Android phones

If you have one of the many smartphones that isn’t getting updated to Android Oreo, there’s still a way for you to try out several of its most noticeable features.

Action Launcher, one of the many apps that let you customize Android’s home screens, is now able to bring three of Oreo’s launcher features to older phones: notification dots, adaptive icons, and restyled app shortcuts. They’re supposed to work on phones going back to 2014’s Android Lollipop.

I installed the app last night to give it a try, and it does a convincing job of mimicking Oreo. Notification dots appeared on app icons when they had a pending notification, and I was able to press and hold the app’s icon to see what the notification was. It would also pop up, along with app shortcuts, in a box with rounded corners, instead of the split apart options seen in prior versions of the OS. That one’s not a huge difference, but it looks a bit nicer.

Adaptive icons work, too. I was able to choose which style of icon I wanted — square, rounded square, even more rounded square, circle, or teardrop — and my home screen and app drawer would refresh and fill with icons all in the same style. Action Launcher even provides custom icons for some apps that don’t support the new feature, so you might see more consistency here then you would on actual Oreo.

Action Launcher has been around for years now, and it does plenty more than just port these — all things considered — relatively minor Oreo features to older phones. It includes a handful of new ideas for the home screen, including a slide out app drawer and a slide out widget tray. There are also a bunch of granular tweaks you can make to things like the dock, shortcuts, folders, and color schemes. Another nice bonus: it lets you add a Pixel-style home screen, complete with Google Now panel, to non-Pixel phones.

But there are some drawbacks to all of this. I installed Action Launcher on my Nexus 5X, and it definitely made my home screen a bit more sluggish. It’s not a huge slow down, but there are occasionally stutters that I didn’t get using my default launcher. So if you’re already on an older, slower Android phone, getting these features might not be worth it. When you first install the app, it’ll mess up your existing widget configuration, too, which isn’t a huge deal but means you won’t want to install this until you have some free time to get it set up to your liking.

And while Action Launcher is free to download, and some of its more basic customizations are free, you’ll have to pay to get the Oreo features. It costs $4.99 to get Notification Dots and some other theming abilities, and then you have to buy a companion app, called AdaptivePack, for $4.99 (though it’s currently on sale for $3.49) to swap out your icons. (If you want the Google Now panel, you’ll also have to install an app from outside the Play Store.)

I think Action Launcher is fun to play around with, but if an Oreo update is eventually coming to your phone, I don’t know that the additional features are worth paying for.

Icon inconsistencies fixed] Nova Launcher beta 5.5 finally brings adaptive icons support

One thing’s sure, TeslaCoil Software is incredibly prolific. Hot on the heels of the recent Sesame Shortcuts, Nova Launcher has just added one more awesome feature: adaptive icons. V5.5-beta1 of the popular launcher allows those of us still waiting for Android 8.0 Oreo to enjoy a little taste of adaptive icons a bit early.

There are a few caveats. You’ll need to be running Android Lollipop 5.0 or later, and some icons use assets that will specifically require Android Nougat 7.0+. There are also some known problems right now, like dynamic calendar icons wonk out, and apps that use drawable aliases to support adaptive icons don’t work (yet).

  

Adaptive icons set to round, rounded square, and forced round

It also doesn’t bring a whole lot of consistency, but that’s mostly because so many apps don’t yet have support for adaptive icons. Thankfully, this beta includes support for a forced mode that automatically scales and shapes legacy icons, too.

It’s disabled by default because it can bug out a bit — round icons inside round icons, that sort of thing — so you’ll have to choose between potential iconception or apps that don’t yet work with adaptive icons. It even adds some nice background accent colors, too.

Once you have the update installed, to enable the option just head to Look & feel in Nova’s settings and enable the Adaptive Icons toggle. Under Adaptive Icon Shape, you can select exactly how you’d like your icons to look, and the Mask legacy icons toggle allows you to forcibly enable the icon shape, even on unsupported applications.

The full changelog:

5.5-beta1 Sep 10, 2017

-Adaptive icons for Android 5.0+
-Use and control the style of adaptive icons from apps that support them
-Scale and reshape legacy/existing icons to match the adaptive style
-Minor fixes

The beta was only just released so it might take a bit for the update to show up on the Play Store. If you’d like to give it a try, you’ll need to opt-in to the beta (if you haven’t already), and wait for the 5.5-beta1 update to land. If you can’t wait for the update to hit on Google Play, you can also download it over on APK Mirror.

Android Distribution Numbers for September Shows Nougat is Up

Just as expected!

Google has a habit of releasing the Android distribution numbers right after they start rolling out the monthly security update for supported Nexus and Pixel devices. The company did publish their security bulletin details earlier in the month, but it wasn’t until today that we started to see the OTA updates reach consumers. So now that those updates are going out, we now have the updated Android distribution numbers for the 7-day period ending on September 11, 2017.

As always, keep in mind that this data is collected from devices which have visited the Play Store during that 7-day period. So while it’s not a 100% accurate representation, it gives us an idea as to how the Android landscape is laid out when it comes to how many people are running certain versions of Android. Android 7.x Nougat has been taking its time since it was released last year, but we’re now seeing its market share has gone up while everything else has gone down compared to last month.

So to start with, Android 7.x Nougat is now being used on 15.8% of active devices on the market right now. This is up from the 13.5% that we saw it at last month. Android 6.0 Marshmallow actually ended up losing 0.1% this month as it comes in at 32.2% when it was at 32.3% last month. Android 5.x Lollipop dropped down to 28.8% from 29.2% that we saw it at in August. The last of the big contenders is Android 4.4 KitKat, which is at 15.1% now while it was at 16% last month.

So that’s the majority of the state of Android right now. When looking at the leftovers, we can see Android 4.1.x, 4.2.x and 4.3.x Jelly Bean is at 6.9% when it was at 7.6% back in August of 2017. Then 4.0.x Ice Cream Sandwich is at 0.6% (which is down from 0.7% a month before) and lastly Android 2.3.x Gingerbread dropped 0.1% as well from 0.7% down to 0.6% this month.

Android Version August 2017 September 2017
Android Gingerbread 0.7% 0.6%
Android Ice Cream Sandwich 0.7% 0.6%
Android Jelly Bean 7.6% 6.9%
Android KitKat 16% 15.1%
Android Lollipop 29.2% 28.8%
Android Marshmallow 32.3% 32.2%
Android Nougat 13.5% 15.8%

Source: Google

How to Install a Dark Theme on Android Oreo without Root

Some of you might remember the days of Android Gingerbread’s green-colored system theme. That was later supplanted by the much beloved Holo UI when Matias Duarte joined Google. The dark, almost futuristic look of Android during the Ice Cream Sandwich, KitKat, and Jellybean was comfortable on the eyes, although the design is dated when paired against the Material Design interface introduced in Android Lollipop. Since then, Google has stuck to the light Material theme to the dismay of many. Getting rid of the blindingly bright light theme on Android Oreo is probably one of the most commonly cited reasons why people are so excited for rootless custom theme support via the Substratum theme engine. Today, we’ll show you exactly how you can install a dark theme on your Android Oreo phone without root!

Top row: Android Oreo’s default theme. Bottom row: Custom dark theme built for Android 8.0


How to Install a Dark Theme on Android Oreo

Prerequisites

Rather than rehashing how to set up Substratum on your shiny Android 8.0 Oreo device, check out this previous tutorial. Follow through that article until you reach the end of “Part 1”, then return to this article to be guided through setting up the dark theme.

Once you’ve set up the Andromeda add-on and have confirmed that Substratum launched without issues, follow the below link to install Sai’s Android Oreo Black Theme. It’s a totally free theme made by a talented themer, but if you enjoy his theme you should consider donating to the user.

[Substratum] Sai's Android Oreo Black Theme
[Substratum] Sai's Android Oreo Black Theme

This particular theme currently only themes the Android System/Framework as well as System UI, but we can combine this theme pack with another one from the same developer to theme a few additional applications. Called Sai’s Fresh Theme, this Substratum theme allows you to apply a dark theme to applications such Android Messages, Google Play Store, and Twitter.

[Substratum] Sai's Fresh Theme
[Substratum] Sai's Fresh Theme

If you’re looking for a theme that applies to more apps, we’ll recommend a few alternative dark themes at the end of this article, but many of the other dark theming apps out there aren’t free, so you’ll have to decide for yourself how many of your apps you want themed. In any case, getting a dark theme in Settings/System UI is more than enough for most people, so that’s why I am recommending Sai’s free themes here.

Tutorial – Installing a Dark Theme

  1. If you haven’t already, start the Andromeda desktop client so that Substratum has the permissions it needs in order to manage themes. The steps to achieve this, again, are outlined in the main tutorial here.
  2. Open the Substratum application and look for “Sai’s Android O Black Theme” in the list.
  3. Tap on it to enter the setup page for the theme pack.
  4. Here, tap on “select to toggle all overlays.”
  5. This will choose the default theme colors and navigation bar icons that come with the theme (Pixel Blue and Pixel respectively). If you want to change the color to “Better Teal”, “Rose”, or “Violet”, expand the dropdown menu under “Android system” and select the color that you want. Similarly, expand the dropdown menu under “System UI Navigation” to reveal alternative navigation bar icon themes such as “AOSP”, “Parapaper”, or “Pixel Neo.”
  6. Once you’re done selecting which overlays and which options you want to enable, tap on the floating button with the paint roller icon. This will bring up a small floating menu.
  7. Select “Build & Enable.” You will see a loading screen as Substratum compiles, installs, then enables each overlay file onto your device. All silently, without you needing to do anything else!
  8. After it’s done, you should see a small snack bar at the bottom telling you the status of the dark theme installation. It doesn’t last very long, but if you expand your notification panel you should see a notification from Substratum telling you that the theme installation was successful. You’ll also immediately be able to see your quick settings/notification panel become much, much darker!Install Dark Theme on Android 8.0 Without Root
  9. Note: any already existing notification in your notification panel before the theme is applied will not be dark themed. This will likely include the “theme compilation has completed” notification as shown above. Any new notifications that show up in your notification panel will, however, be dark themed, as shown in the feature image at the top of this article!
  10. Optional: If you want to install a dark/black theme for Messages, Twitter, and the Play Store then go back to Substratum and open up Sai’s Fresh Theme in the list. Here, select the themes that you want applied to the apps that you want to be themed. Just like above, tap the paint roller icon and select “Build & Enable” in order to apply the theme!

Enjoy the dark theme! Your dark themes will remain on your phone even if you reboot! It won’t survive a factory reset, however. If you decide to change your mind for whatever reason and want to go back to the default light theme, you can easily disable this theme by repeating steps 1-6, but instead of tapping on “Build & Enable” in step 7 you tap on “Disable selected.”

Alternative Dark Themes

As promised, here are a handful of alternative custom dark themes available for Android Oreo users. None of the below themes are free, but they are great examples of the kinds of themes that are available on the Play Store. Credits to XDA Senior Member rest0ck for putting together this list!

Hopefully with the explosion in popularity that rootless Substratum has brought to custom theming, more and more developers will create themes that will be compatible for Android Oreo users. Keep an eye out on our Substratum forum and stay tuned to the XDA Portal via the XDA Labs app for any future news about the Substratum theme engine.

This post is not the only Substratum related tutorial we published today. In fact, it’s part of a series. You can find the rest of the tutorials below:

The Best Rugged and Durable Android Phones September 2017

Many folks need to sacrifice a phone with good looks for a phone that won’t make you cringe each time you drop it. If you’re looking for the best rugged Android phones that can take serious beatings we’ve got you covered.

Some of the phones can be dunked in water, slammed onto concrete, and may even survive a trip to the sun. OK, maybe not that last one, but they’re tough all the same. Let’s jump into our list of the very best durable and rugged Android phones you can buy!

Note: Durability ratings are listed for each device. Be sure to check out our clear explanation of what each IP rating means.

For an explanation on the military-used MIL-STD-810 standard, head here.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active may not be the most durable phone on this list, but it certainly is the most well-rounded of the lot. This phone’s tough exterior can withstand more than a punch or 2. At the same time, you don’t have to sacrifice powerful specs, a beautiful display, and a great camera.

Durability Ratings:

Kyocera-DuraForce-PRO

Kyocera’s latest rugged smartphone comes in with a very impressive suite of features. Alongside its tankiness thanks to a MIL-STD 810 and IP68 specification, the device includes awesome new features like dual-rear camera and a mounting system to be able to attach the phone to a helmet or bike to record activities. It also has dual-front speakers and a fingerprint sensor, 2 uncommon marks for phones in this class.

Durability Ratings:

kyocera duraforce xd

With a nice 5.7-inch display, the Kyocera Duraforce XD gives you the nice spacious room that most other rugged phones would rather use for a bulky chassis. That big display also makes room for a big battery at 3,700mAh. It gets bonus points for being one of the only phones you an use inside a gas chamber thanks to its OSHA certification.

Durability Ratings:

  • IP68
  • MILD-STD 810
  • OSHA certified

Moto Z Force Side View

Motorola debuted their 2016 option that includes ShatterShield technology: the Moto Z Force. The device has all the makings of a flagship, including an insane 21-megapixel camera, Snapdragon 820 chipset, and more. It doesn’t proclaim to be an ultra-rugged smartphone, but its shatterproof display earns it a comfortable spot on this list.

Durability Ratings:

N/A

Read our Moto Z Force Review!

sonim xp7

Sonim decided to go for an unbreakable rock of a phone with the XP7. It’s ultra-rugged exterior lets it withstand impacts from drops made as high as 6.5m high, it can be used in extremely hot or cold weather climates, can withstand high-pressure streams of water, and also carries with it the highest IP rating you can give a phone. Add in LTE connectivity, an 8MP camera, and an affordable price tag and this is one of the best phones for serious outdoor activity.

Durability Ratings:

cat s40

Caterpillar created a rock solid phone in the CAT S40. The device can withstand fierce impact against tough surfaces, and does so while running a pretty good Android Lollipop experience. Its spec sheet is highlighted by an 8-megapixel camera, 3,000mAh battery, and support for LTE speeds up to 150 megabits per second.

Durability Ratings:

motorola droid turbo 2 vzw teaser

Motorola’s DROID Turbo 2 may not have the looks to show it, but this is one tough phone. The device features the world’s first “virtually shatterproof” display. Those claims were put to the test many times, and sure enough Motorola seems to have made a phone with a display that refuses to crack. You’ll suffer some external wounds in the case of accidents, though, so be extra careful with it regardless.

Durability Ratings:

N/A

verykool-rx2

The VeryKool Rock RX2 has a very appropriate name — it simply looks very cool. This device offers up water, dust, and shock resistant chassis, as well as a tempered glass display. You can drop it off a moderate-sized building and it wouldn’t even make you whimper. It gets bonus points for a display you can use with gloves on.

Durability Ratings:

Other Great Options

These phones weren’t quite strong enough to make it onto our list, but they’re worth checking out to see if something more your style is waiting to be discovered.

Google Introduces Runtime-Only Permissions in Android 8.0 for Better Security

One of the best security-oriented changes included in Android 6.0 Marshmallow was runtime permissions. Before the advent of runtime permissions, developers would define permissions in their AndroidManifest file that would be granted automatically upon installation. On Android 6.0 and newer, runtime permissions required the user to explicitly grant or deny a permission through a dialog. From a security standpoint, this ensured that certain sensitive permissions like reading text messages or contacts would need to be brought to the user’s attention before the app could use them.

But there was one major problem: runtime permissions are only enforced for applications targeting Android Marshmallow or newer. So long as the app targets Android Lollipop or older, any runtime permissions would still be automatically granted upon installation. Lots of applications, most notably Snapchat, still do this in order to avoid dealing with runtime permissions. Finally, with Android 8.0 Oreo, Google has introduced a small but very important change to try and fix that in the future.

On April 4th, a commit was made to AOSP that allows permissions to be runtime-only. This change adds a new runtime protection level flag to the Android system that, if set, will only grant certain permissions to apps that target Android Marshmallow or above. Currently the only permission that takes advantage of this new runtime-only flag is ANSWER_PHONE_CALLS, which allows any application with this permission to programmatically answer phone calls on behalf of the user.

Still, it’s a real security improvement for when more and more permissions are restricted under this flag, then apps won’t be able to sneakily grant themselves sensitive or dangerous permissions unless they start targeting a newer version of Android. This will also push app developers to adopt newer APIs and features on their apps, as targeting a newer Android version will become a requirement to use these new permissions.

Action Launcher v26 beta is available, includes Android O’s notification dots and new app shortcut UI

Chris Lacy’s Action Launcher got a massive update recently, introducing new branding, more free features, an animated Android O style clock widget, and more. Together with its already useful feature set, including shutters and covers, it’s cemented its place as one of Android’s best launchers. The latest Beta is now available, as announced by Lacy on his blog, and it includes a number of features that Google has added to the Pixel Launcher in Android O, such as notification dots and a new UI for app shortcuts and widgets.

I agree with Lacy that the new long-press UI for app shortcuts is not as attractive as before, but it is more useful as it can also display notifications and available widgets, too. You can edit an app’s icon or name with the Quickedit option. The Android widget picker was only to be found in the launcher overview menu before, but now you can see widgets for each app in its own long-press menu, which makes a lot more sense. These changes have been brought over to the Action Launcher v26.0 beta, and they look pretty good.

 New app shortcuts with notifications.

Notification dots will appear in the top right of the app icon, though the position can be changed in the settings. The app shortcut menu shows a small preview of a notification, as you can see above. Clicking it will take you directly to that part of the app, or you can dismiss it with a swipe. Smaller enhancements include altering the scale of icon indicators and other interface changes.

The new widget picker.

Check out the full changelog below:

NEW: Full notification dots support! Notification dots display on icons, and long-pressing a shortcut will display a preview of app’s notifications and allow notification to be dismissed ala Android O. Requires Lollipop or later.
NEW: Android O style App Shortcuts panel. Requires Lollipop or later.
NEW: Android O style widget picker, which displays all relevant widgets for a given shortcut.
NEW: Directly engage Action Launcher’s Quickedit panel via a shortcut’s long-press pop-up UI. Requires Lollipop or later.
NEW: Dedicated “Icons & App Shortcuts” settings page, which is home to all icon related settings.
NEW: Option to adjust the scale of icon indicators.
NEW: Revamped interface for selecting the apps that are hidden from app drawers.

These additions all work with Android Lollipop and above, so you don’t have to have the latest OS version to sample the new features. Lacy promises more new features as the v26.0 beta progresses, so if you want to stay on the bleeding edge you should become a beta tester, or you can download the file from APKMirror. Alternatively, if you want to play it safe you can get the stable version from the Play Store link below.

Action Launcher: Pixel Edition
Action Launcher: Pixel Edition

Android’s biggest issue is as prominent in 2017 as it’s ever been – BGR

If you thought that this might be the year that Google finally solved its Android fragmentation problem, I have some bad news for you. As of July 6th, Android 7.0 (the most recent version of the OS) is running on 11.5% of Android devices. That’s 4.4% higher than May 2nd, but don’t forget that Android 7.0 first began rolling out to Nexus devices in August 2016. Quite a wait for double-digit adoption.

Breaking down the numbers a bit further, Google’s Android Dashboard shows that 10.6% of Android users have upgraded to Android 7.0, but that only 0.9% have reached Android 7.1, which rolled out last October. To put those figures into perspective, Apple claims that 86% of iOS users are running iOS 10 as of July 5th. iOS 10 was released in September, a few weeks after Android 7.0.

Image Source: Android Dashboards

With just weeks left until the launch of Android 8.0, nearly a third of Android users are still running Android Lollipop, which encompasses versions 5.0 and 5.1. While Android 6.0 Marshmallow has finally surpassed Lollipop’s market share, 30.1% of Android users are still working with an OS from 2014.

Meanwhile, 17.1% of Android users are still running 4.4 KitKat and 9.5% (or greater) are using phones with versions between 2.3.3 Gingerbread and 4.3 Jelly Bean. Nearly 60% of Android users have yet to upgrade to an operating system that rolled out after October 2015. That’s not a good sign.

Google has promised that Android 8.0 will “make it easier, faster and less costly for manufacturers to update devices to a new version of Android,” but we’ve heard that line before. We remain cautiously optimistic that Android’s distribution numbers will become more respectable in the near future.

which manufacturers have been fastest so far?

Android updates are one of the major parts of our experience with smartphones. We place a great deal of importance on them, they’re the subject of neverending criticism, and we’ve all experienced the pain of waiting for one that just never seems to arrive.

In the most recent headcount, Android Nougat can be found on 9.5 percent of Android devices, around 10 months after it first hit the scene (August 22, 2016). By next week, this is likely to be more than 10 percent.

For a moment, I’d like to ignore what that figure means in the grand scheme of things (I’m well aware many would say it’s far too low), however, and instead focus on how that 9.5 percent has been accounted for. In other words, how have the major OEMs performed so far in the Android Nougat rollout?

Note the information in this article is based on the findings in our Android Nougat update tracker, relevant links can be found there. 

Motorola

We’ll start with Motorola, seeing as it was the fastest out the gates with the Nougat update in the US, delivering it to its Moto Z and Moto Z Force Droid in just 88 days. Naturally, this was great news for owners of its latest and greatest phones, but Motorola then managed to usher out the update to most recent Moto G devices, the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, in India before the end of 2016.

Motorola continued deployments in February, bringing its Droid Turbo 2, from 2015, up to speed with the latest Android version, followed by the Moto Z Play Droid in March. Its US Moto G4 caught up with Indian models in April, while the Moto X Force was updated in June.

Overall, Motorola has managed to deliver Nougat faster than most of its competitors and to more phones. It’s prioritizing not just latest flagships but its entry level devices, and various other Motorola handsets have been updated in territories outside of the US too.

LG

LG was only a couple of days behind Motorola in the US Nougat rollout, upgrading the LG G5 in 90 days. After that initial burst of energy, things went quiet on the Nougat front until May 2017, when the update started to appear on some of LG’s lesser known devices, the LG Stylo 2 V, LG Stylo 2 Plus, LG K8 V, and the LG Phoenix 2.

This was a great start from LG, especially as it had already said that the LG G5 had sold relatively poorly — it could have easily placed resources elsewhere and waited until 2017 to update it. The problem is LG is yet to update it’s second-tier flagship, and may never do so.

Despite reports about its LG G4 update looming, it’s still nowhere in sight, and there are indications that it’s no longer coming. The G4 might be more than two years old now, but one major upgrade is pretty poor form for a flagship phone.

HTC

Also timely with the Nougat update was HTC, bringing it to the HTC 10 only 95 days after Google released it. HTC then followed up with the update to its 2015 flagship, the One M9, only 11 days later. This phone launched with Android Lollipop, and even to this day, many manufacturers still don’t have their 2015 flagships updated (see LG, OnePlus and Huawei).

The HTC One A9, another notable device in the US, started receiving Nougat in January, and the HTC Desire 10 Pro soon after.

It’s easy to say things are taking their sweet time when it’s your device waiting for the update, but when looked at across all manufacturers, HTC is on the faster end of the spectrum — Nougat is now on all of its major devices, even if it has a smaller catalog than many other OEMs.

Sony

Sony was the fourth and final OEM to get Nougat out within 100 days. It first appeared on the Xperia X Performance on November 29, followed by the Xperia XZ one day later. The Xperia X and X Compact started picking up the update around two weeks later, rounding off the rollout to its most recent smartphone lineup.

Sony has since released Nougat for its Xperia Z3+ (in January), which launched with Lollipop, and was the first third-party manufacturer to roll out the Android 7.1.1 update, which it has done for a few of its devices.

A couple of years ago, you might have called Sony one of the worst OEMs in terms of updates. Since then, it has revamped the way it approaches the process — it recently concluded an experimental Concept for Android track for a near stock experience on the Xperia X phones — and is releasing timely upgrades. Those burned by its slow rollouts in recent years might not like it, but right now, Sony is outperforming the majority of OEMs.

OnePlus

OnePlus released the Nougat updates for its latest flagship pair, the OnePlus 3 and 3T, on December 31, 2016. It was one of the last major manufacturers to release the update (though Samsung was still later), but this meant that OnePlus only had one more update to push out to get all of its recent devices up and running with the latest software.

Disappointedly, OnePlus later confirmed that the OnePlus 2 wouldn’t receive the Nougat update. OnePlus is, however, the smallest company on our list, and relies on online sales of its phones — it’s understandable that it might not have the infrastructure to deliver lightning fast updates, even if it does have the healthy bankroll of Oppo and BBK behind it and its Android skin is relatively light compared to Samsung or Huawei.

To not deliver a major Android update at all sends a disappointing message to those who might want to pick up a more recent flagship. The company has only recently released the OnePlus 5: will it be able to guarantee two major updates for that? Or even if it does make promises, should we believe them?

Samsung

Samsung, arguably, has the most work to do of all the OEMs mentioned so far: its interfaces are heavily customized. The trouble is, few people are actually in favor of that — they’d rather a more stock Android-like interface and faster updates. Can’t blame ’em.

Galaxy S7 owners had to wait until into the new year for Samsung to roll out Nougat: it arrived January 12 in China and the UK. However, it wasn’t until May — May — that unlocked S7 handsets in the US got Nougat — more than 250 days after the software first landed.

That update did begin arriving to carrier branded handsets as early as January, and Samsung has been upgrading its most recent lineup of phones, including the 2015 flagships the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, from March. Still, it’s generally poor performance from the South Korean giant as it has no excuses where money and resources are concerned.

Huawei and Xiaomi

Huawei’s update rollout in the West is basically nonexistent, but it also isn’t selling devices in the US. Those in certain European territories, where the phones are readily available, are still waiting for many updates on many devices, however — even flagships. Similarly, Huawei’s Chinese competitor Xiaomi is lagging behind on updates in Western regions, but its phones are even harder to get hold of.

Ultimately, I feel these manufacturers are less accountable than the OEMs that have a major foothold in the US market: North America simply isn’t a focus for them. That being said, if fast updates are a primary concern for you, you know which manufacturers to avoid.

Wrap Up

Overall, the Nougat update is rolling out slower than its predecessor, Android Marshmallow. That software hit 10 percent of devices in July 2016 after being released in October of 2015. Android Nougat is basically now reaching the same point despite being released last August.

As for the manufacturers, Sony and HTC appear to be leading the pack as far as comprehensive update coverage goes. Both had their flagships up and running quickly, and Sony has even rolled out 7.1.1. Motorola was also sprightly and it has a lot of phones to cover.

LG was fast with its G5, and its V10 update came in May, but the potential lack of an LG G4 update leaves a sour taste.

Meanwhile, OnePlus has been disappointing on several fronts, as has Samsung, but at least the latter has updated its S6 and S6 Edge (which were released three months before the OnePlus 2). The Chinese OEMs, on the other hand, are on their own schedule. Of course, if you simply want the fastest updates and best support, you need look no further than a Google Pixel.

Hopefully, this has given you something to think about when you’re making your next smartphone purchase. What are your thoughts on the Nougat rollout so far? Which manufacturers have impressed or disappointed you? Let us know in the comments.

OnePlus says OnePlus 3 and 3T will get Android O by end of 2017

A few members of the OnePlus team took took part in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) yesterday where they commented on a range of topics. Among them, was the status of the Android O update for the OnePlus 3 and 3T.

OnePlus representative Robin Z (OxygenOS Product) stated that this would roll out before the end of the year, meaning the company has put another December 31 deadline in place as it did last year with the Android Nougat rollout (and it only just made it.)

Concerns about the status of this update were amplified when it was recently revealed that the OnePlus 2 would not receive Android Nougat. The smartphone launched with Android Lollipop and therefore a second major software upgrade was expected; the vast majority of Android flagships receive two Android versions.

While this news may come as a relief to some fans (that is, if they trust OnePlus to keep its word) it also presupposes that the OnePlus 3T — which arrived only last November — will see its final major software update within 13 months of its release.

At the time of the OnePlus 3T’s release on November 22, Android Nougat had been available for three months (since August 22), and some manufacturers had already managed to roll out the new software to their flagship phones. OnePlus hadn’t rolled out Nougat at that time, but it’s a shame to think that, because the 3T was went on sale just a few weeks shy of OnePlus’ Nougat rollout, it probably won’t receive Android P. OnePlus hasn’t said as much, but it’s under no obligation to deliver it.

Meanwhile, this information also indicates that the OnePlus 5 will get the Android O update before the end of the year too, as it’s OnePlus’ latest flagship.

What are your thoughts on OnePlus’ approach to updates? Let us know in the comments.