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.

Samsung Galaxy S8 visits Geekbench carrying Android 8. Oreo

Previous week, we documented the Samsung Galaxy S8 duo will be updated to Android Oreo soon. SamMobile had claimed Samsung is already operating on Android Oreo update for the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Additionally.

Samsung Galaxy S8 visits Geekbench carrying Android 8.0 Oreo

Turns out the report was not deceptive. The Samsung Galaxy S8 has just visited the benchmark web-site Geekbench with Android 8. Oreo. What’s additional, the system is powered by the Exynos 8895. This means it wouldn’t be extended in advance of the Galaxy S8 people in India would obtain the Android Oreo update. As of now nevertheless, Samsung has not introduced the exact timeline for the update’s roll out day.

Coming to the Geekbench score of the Oreo-dependent Galaxy S8, it is extraordinary but not better than what the system achieves on Android 7. Nougat. In any circumstance, at the time the Oreo update is pushed out, people will get a slew of new options together with photograph-in-photograph mode.

Samsung Galaxy S8 visits Geekbench carrying Android 8.0 Oreo

This mode will permit people watch YouTube films while working with other apps as nicely. This aspect is already out there on the latest model of iOS. On the other hand, people can only watch films working on Safari net browser. The YouTube application does not allow any these kinds of aspect on iOS as nicely.

Another aspect that makes Oreo a much much better improvement in excess of Android Nougat is the notification visuals. People will be capable to watch the notifications with much clarity and with many alternatives presented for each individual notification. Often-on display together with auto fill has also been presented in Oreo update as nicely.

Auto-fill lets signing into apps additional quickly. There are also many alternatives out there for any text range designed on Android Oreo. Google is calling the aspect good range because it gives people with more alternatives according to the text chosen. For illustration, if you pick an handle, Oreo will present you an choice to glimpse it up on Maps.

Motorola reveals which phones will get Android 8.0 Oreo upgrade » TechWorm

Motorola releases list of phones that will get Android 8.0 Oreo update

All those Motorola smartphone owners who are looking to enjoy new features of the Google’s newly released Android 8.0 Oreo operating system can rejoice now, as Motorola Mobility, a subsidiary of Lenovo, has released a list of the Moto devices that will receive Android 8.0 Oreo update.

“We’re happy to confirm Android 8.0 Oreo will be joining our fleet of Motorola smartphones, starting this fall,” read the company’s blogpost. Motorola also has an online tool that allows its handset owners to select their carrier and phone to find out if/when it will be updated.

The smartphones that are set to be updated to Android 8.0 Oreo are

  • Moto Z2 Force
  • Moto Z2 Play
  • Moto Z Force DROID
  • Moto Z
  • Moto Z Play
  • Moto G5
  • Moto G5 Plus
  • Moto GS5
  • Moto GS5 Plus

The company has also asked its users to stay tuned with Motorola for the status of updates on its customer support page. On the other hand, Motorola’s other three flagships, namely Moto G4 Play, Moto G4, and Moto G4 Plus that are running Android Nougat and are more than over a year old are not included in the list, hinting that these might not get upgraded to Android 8.0 Oreo.

The Android 8.0 Oreo will bring a number of new features and improvements to the Moto Android smartphones. Moto smartphone owners will enjoy “faster speeds, longer battery life, split-screen capabilities, smart text selection, improved notifications, autofill framework for your trickiest of passwords, and of course, the all-new Google Play Protect, helping to ensure none of your apps become compromised,” confirmed the company in their blogpost.

In addition, Android 8.0 Oreo will also include picture-in-picture multitasking, allow users to watch YouTube videos while replying to a text or check their e-mails and much more.

Besides Motorola, several smartphone makers like Samsung, Nokia, Huawei, OnePlus, HTC, LG, Sharp and Sony have also confirmed Android 8.0 Oreo for their devices.

Lenovo launches four new Android tablets

Lenovo has launched four new Android tablets (yes, they still exist) under its Tab 4 line. First spotted by PhoneRadar, the Tab 4 8, Tab 4 8 Plus, Tab 4 10, and Tab 4 10 Plus are the latest additions to the company’s tablet offerings. They all run Android Nougat. Let’s break them down:

Lenovo Tab 4 10 Plus

  • 10.1-inch Full HD display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor
  • Up to 64GB of storage
  • Up to 4GB of RAM
  • 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing camera

The Tab 4 10 Plus is the most powerful tablet Lenovo announced. It comes with an Adreno 506 GPU, dual front-facing speakers with Dolby Atmos support, a 7,000 mAh battery, a USB-C port, and a $279 starting price.

Lenovo Tab 4 10

  • 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor
  • 16GB storage
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing camera

Essentially a budget version of the Plus, the Tab 4 10 is bigger and slower, with a worse display and doesn’t come with a fingerprint sensor like it’s big brother does. And Lenovo hasn’t released pricing for it yet.

Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus

  • 8-inch Full HD display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 octa-core processor
  • Up to 64GB of storage
  • Up to 4GB of RAM
  • 8MP rear, 5MP front-facing camera

Lenovo Tab 4 8 Plus

The Tab 4 8 Plus is essentially a smaller version of the Tab 4 10 Plus with identical specs. The fingerprint sensor is integrated with the power button, it comes with a 4,850 mAh battery, and it’s available in slate black or polar white.

Lenovo Tab 4 8

  • 8-inch 1280 x 800 display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor
  • 16GB storage
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 5MP rear, 2MP front-facing camera

This is the slowest tablet of the bunch, and probably the one you should avoid. These specs would be great in 2011, but not today.

US users are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to these tablets, as the international versions are far more powerful. US configurations max out at 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage for all of these tablets. But if you live elsewhere, these may be a good deal if you need a cheap Android tablet.

Motorola Officially Announces Android 8.0 Oreo Update for Their Devices

Motorola has been quite of a mixed bag when it comes to updates. Back when the company was owned by Google, they released a record-breaking Android 4.4 KitKat update, rolling it out to the Moto X and Moto G even before most other devices. With the Lenovo acquisition beginning 2015, things started to get progressively slower. After an acceptable Android 5.0 and 5.1 Lollipop rollout and a relatively slow Android 6.0 Marshmallow update, the Android 7.0 Nougat update was surprisingly behind the competition. Earlier today, the Motorola support page started showing the devices which were going to get the Android 8.0 Oreo update, which was uploaded to AOSP some weeks back. And now we have an official statement on their official blog.

The Motorola phones officially getting the Android Oreo update are:

Just like last year, there are some odd omissions. For example, we are quite surprised to see that the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus, Motorola’s budget offerings from last year, are not getting the Android Oreo update, especially after Motorola’s marketing material for both phones very explicitly said that the phones “will get upgraded to Android operating system versions N and O”. This is another case of phone manufacturers failing to deliver on their promises and Motorola has already done this, so it’s a huge letdown for those who bought the Moto G4 based on Moto’s update support. Earlier this year OnePlus did something similar, by cancelling the Android Nougat update for the OnePlus 2 and leaving it on Marshmallow after previously confirming that the phone was indeed getting it.

This isn’t unheard of Motorola. Last year, both the Moto G 2015 and the Moto E 2015 were prematurely dropped after Motorola confirmed the phones were not getting Android Nougat. And even then, the Moto E 2015 only received the Marshmallow update in select markets, notably excluding the US, effectively leaving the phone with only one minor update (Android 5.0.2 to Android 5.1). Some other 2016 and 2017 phones, like the Moto E3 and Moto E4 ranges, as well as the whole Moto C line (launched earlier this year), were also excluded from the Oreo roll out, leaving them with no update support whatsoever.

We are still not sure whether the rollout itself will be timely, but based on previous rollouts, we can expect the Moto Z2 and Moto X4 to get it around November-December, followed by the Moto G5 and G5S phones around January-February 2018. The last ones would be the Moto Z (first gen) line, which should roll out around May 2018 for the unlocked models and extend up to July-August 2018 for the Droid editions. This is just pure guessing based on previous rollouts, so don’t take those predictions as fact.

If your device is not getting the update, then you can break away from Motorola and install it unofficially as soon as it becomes stable, as most Moto phones actually have an outstanding developer community (despite their unwillingness to release sources in a timely manner). But it should be completely clear by now that you should avoid Motorola and Lenovo if you actually care about updates — or, at the very least, that you should not trust their word.

Source: Motorola Blog

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

Another year, another version of Android and iOS. It’s that time where we compare the new features offered in each camp and help you to decide if now’s the time to switch.

Apple is now up to iOS 11, and there’s nothing radically different or new to woo Android users. But it’s the same story at Google: a raft of small changes makes Android Oreo 8.0 nicer and easier to use.

It is worth stating at the outset that not all Android phones will have all of the features we mention here. Many phone makers love to customise Android with their own ‘overlays’ and this can mean that their own notification design, say, overrides what Android would otherwise do in its native form.

It’s also possible that your Android phone won’t ever get Android Oreo, either because it’s too old or because the manufacturer simply decides not to put the work into modifying and releasing Oreo for it.

This, along with the fact you’re virtually guaranteed a timely update is why a lot of people prefer to buy one of Google’s own phones or a handset from a manufacturer that sticks close to stock Android and has a good track record of fast updates to the new version.

What’s new in Android Oreo?

Here are the main changes, but there are lots of other small updates too.

  • 2x faster to boot up
  • Minimises background app activity
  • Autofill remembers app logins
  • Picture in Picture lets you watch video while using another app
  • Notification dots quickly show you what’s new, and can be swiped off screen
  • Android Instant Apps launch within your browser with no installation
  • Google Play Protect scans apps to keep your device and data safe
  • Improved battery life
  • Redesigned emoji library with more than 60 new emoji

Some of the smaller improvements include notification snoozing where you can dismiss a notification that you want to deal with later – similar to Inbox snoozing.

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

There’s built-in compatibility with Mopria printers, too, which Google reckons covers almost all printers currently on sale.

Project Treble is another behind-the-scenes update that makes Android more modular, which in turn makes it easier for phone makers to roll out Android updates. Hopefully, then, even Huawei owners might see new versions arriving on their phones without an interminable wait.

Having a feature like Autofill means you won’t have to install an extra app (such as Lastpass) to remember your logins and it works with apps, not just websites in a browser.

Picture in picture works much like it does in iOS:

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

For more details, read our Android Oreo review.

What’s new in iOS 11?

  • Built-in screen recording
  • Customisable Control Centre
  • Redesigned App Store
  • Files app (for iPad)
  • Dock (for iPad)
  • Multitasking improvements for iPad
  • Drag and drop (for iPad)
  • Apple Pencil improvements
  • New Live photos (loop, bounce, long exposure)
  • Portrait lighting (only on certain iPhones)
  • Improved Siri
  • AirPlay 2
  • Do Not Disturb While Driving

Clearly, this is an iPad-focused update and iOS 11 is a massive improvement for iPad owners, particularly those with the iPad Pro.

Adding a macOS-style dock is a brilliant move and the new ability to launch apps from it as well as dragging and dropping between two open apps puts iOS 11 firmly in the lead over Android when it comes to tablets.

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

Google did add the capability to run two apps on screen on the Pixel C in Nougat, but add hardware and software together and it’s the iPad Pro (with the Apple Pencil) that wins for productivity.

Although outside the scope of this comparison, before you order an iPad Pro it’s well worth investigating a Surface Pro with Windows 10 if you primarily live in the Microsoft Office world. Windows still beats iOS for productivity.

If you’re reading this with phones in mind, then iOS 11 is of course also very slick on the iPhone. Plenty of people will be happy to see the back of the multi-pane Control Centre and the overdue introduction of customisation.

Now you choose which shortcuts you want to see, and if you have a phone with 3D Touch, you can press hard to see more options. For example, you can toggle Wi-Fi on and off as usual, but a ‘deep’ press takes you to the Wi-Fi settings.

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

Android Oreo vs iOS 11

The redesigned App Store not only looks nicer, but importantly makes it far easier to discover new apps than before.

We also like the new live photo options, which you’ll find when you edit a live photo in the Photos app. Previously live photos were something you were likely to disable, but now the video clips are fun to share with friends and family.

And from a safety point of view, iOS 11 will try and detect when you’re driving and mute all notifications. If someone calls or texts, you can set up an auto-reply which tells them you’re driving and you’ll catch up with them later. 

So which is better, iOS or Android?

The old argument goes that Android is more customisable and lets you do more, and iOS is safer and more secure but is far more limiting in terms of what you can change and how you do things.

And with Oreo and iOS 11 nothing has really changed on this score. Thanks to the new Google Play Protect, Oreo should be the most secure version of Android yet and all the other improvements (including the better power management) make it the best yet.

Of course, hardware manufacturers have been adding features for years, so lots of Android phones already have great power management and it’s simple to install an app that can remember login details.

Picture-in-picture is a feature that’s catching up with iOS, but it’s been a long while since Android could be considered “as good as” iOS. In many respects there are still lots of features that Apple could ‘borrow’ and implement in iOS. Notification lights, anyone?

iPhone X features: A leap forward for Apple but Samsung’s Android phones are way ahead

Apple has launched its latest batch of smartphones: the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus.

As usual, they’re eye-catching and beautiful, but the brand new jewel in Apple’s crown – the iPhone X – isn’t quite as revolutionary as the company would have you believe.

The iPhone X may have been hailed by Tim Cook as “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”, but in reality, you can already find its best features on numerous Android phones, including several made by its great rival Samsung.

The X’s headline feature is its “edge-to-edge” display, which dramatically increases the device’s screen-to-body ratio, keeping it compact. 

It’s a very modern design move, which has changed the look of the iPhone for the better. The X is, without doubt, the most attractive version of the iPhone since the iPhone 4, which came out way back in 2010. In truth though, the X simply had to look different. 

After all, Samsung has already unleashed three outstanding “all-screen” phones – the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus and Note 8 – but even then it was far from the first manufacturer to do so

Next to the iPhone X, S8 and Note 8, the iPhone 8 looks bland. A few tweaks aside, it follows the same stale design blueprint as the iPhone 6, released in 2014. This time next year, the 8 will look old.

As well as beating Apple to the punch, Samsung has done a much better job of making an all-screen phone too. The X, unlike the S8, S8 Plus and Note 8, has an unusual cutout – flanked by two “ears” – at the top of the screen, which could prevent iPhone X users from ever watching videos in true fullscreen mode.

That cutout also complicates navigation. You have to swipe down from the left ear to see notifications, and from the right ear for the Control Center. This isn’t exactly information overload, but it’s not particularly intuitive.

Back in 2013, Tim Cook described OLED screens – which feature on the best Android phones, including the Note 8 and LG V30 – as “awful”, criticising colour saturation and lack of brightness. However, in the iPhone X, Apple has finally, after literally years of hope and speculation, equipped one of its handsets with an OLED display. 

The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, meanwhile, are stuck on LCD. It’s clear that the company now considers OLED to be the superior of the two screen technologies. 

However, the situation isn’t quite that straightforward. Even now, after its launch, Apple is struggling to manufacture the iPhone X. Samsung is reportedly Apple’s only supplier of OLED displays and, as such, the phone won’t be released for some time yet, and is expected to be in relatively short supply when it does eventually come out.

Still though, Apple has been delaying the inevitable and, up to this point, building its infamously expensive phones around a screen technology it knows to be second-rate.

With the iPhone X, Apple has also boosted resolution and pixel density, from 1,334 x 750 (326 pixels per inch) on the iPhone 8 and 1,920 x 1,080 (401 pixels per inch), to a much sharper 2,436 x 1,125 (458 pixels per inch). 

That finally puts the iPhone in line with flagship – and even some mid-range – Android phones, which have had much sharper screens than the iPhone for several years. 

Those aren’t the only departments Apple is playing catch-up in. 

Facial recognition technology, for example, happens to also be one of the key features of the Note 8 (and S8 and S8 Plus).

What’s more, those phones found room for a fingerprint sensor too – bewilderingly bad ones, admittedly, though this could easily have been avoided by Samsung – whereas Apple’s iPhone X has completely ditched Touch ID, to the dismay of many potential buyers.

Face ID looks futuristic, but Touch ID is trusted, and not exactly outdated either. After all, it still makes an appearance on the iPhone 8.

According to reports, Apple had been planning to build Touch ID under the iPhone X’s screen, but had to abandon the idea very recently, due to manufacturing issues. If true, this suggests Apple never actually wanted Face ID to be the main method for unlocking the phone. 

The X isn’t out yet, but it’s clear that a lot of consumers don’t feel entirely comfortable with Face ID, as they feel it might not be as reliable as Touch ID – especially in particularly dark or bright conditions – or as secure as it. 

The facial recognition technology on the Note 8 and S8 isn’t especially slick – it’s there an an alternative to the fingerprint scanner and iris scanner. While Apple’s face-scanning technology may prove itself to be far superior to Samsung’s, it would have been nice for the iPhone X to have a familiar and well-liked alternative to the unproven and, in some cases at least, intimidatingly futuristic, Face ID and the old-fashioned PIN. 

Finally, Apple has also embraced wireless charging – once again, like several of the best Android phones, some of which have offered it for well over a year – with all three of its new iPhones. 

However, it hasn’t yet managed to build a wireless charging accessory. It’s instead pointing customers towards third-party options built by the likes of Belkin and Mophie.

Tim Cook would have you believe the company is making waves, but in reality it’s actually trying – and in some departments struggling – to keep up with a number of less-celebrated, and significantly cheaper, Android smartphones.

While the iPhone X looks like a highly desirable smartphone, it’s a leap forward for iPhones, not smartphones as a whole. 

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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.

Motorola releases list of devices that will get Android Oreo

Now that Android 8.0 Oreo is out in the wild for Google’s Pixel and Nexus devices, now the attention turns to Android manufacturers to see what devices will get the update and the speed at which they receive the updates. Motorola is one such manufacturer, and with a slew of Android devices under its belt, it’s time to take a look at which will get Oreo.

Taking a look at the list, the more notable omissions are the Moto G4 Play, Moto G4, and Moto G4 Plus, all three of which were released in 2016. Even though they were all upgraded to Nougat, it looks as if that will be the last major Android update they will receive, which is a bit of a letdown but something that has become a trend with budget smartphones.

Also of note is some of the language Motorola uses with certain devices, whose Oreo updates are “pending partner support.” Keep in mind that, even though Motorola is behind the updates, the carriers are the ones that push them out, unless the device is unlocked. As such, you should also pay attention to your carrier if you have any of the Z-branded phones, since they are the ones who set the update timetable for their phones.

Finally, the list does not include the upcoming Moto X4, which looks to be the first Android One phone to launch in the US. Then again, the Moto X4 isn’t even available for purchase in the country or around the world yet, so keep your fingers crossed that an update to Oreo is in the works.

You can see the full list of Motorola devices getting the Oreo update below:

  • Moto Z2 Force – AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon
  • Moto Z2 Play – Verizon, unlocked
  • Moto Z Force – Verizon
  • Moto Z – Verizon, unlocked
  • Moto Z Play – Verizon, unlocked
  • Moto G5S Plus – unlocked
  • Moto G5 Plus – unlocked
  • Moto G5 – unlocked

Do you think Motorola has dropped the ball when it comes to the lack of an Oreo update for the Moto G4 family? How long do you think it will take these phones to receive the Oreo update? Let us know in the comments!