Monthly Archives: July 2016

All Set For Android Nougat?

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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List of features in Android Nougat

 

It’s not Nutella, it’s not Nectarine, and it’s not any of the several other names for Android 7.0 suggested and guessed by people. Google has announced via Snapchat that the latest iteration of its mobile platform will be named ‘Nougat’ – a chewy candy used in popular items like the Snickers bar. The fifth and final Developer Preview of the upcoming Android version is also out, with the  stable release expected in the second half of August. In what follows, we will deliberate a bit on the choice of name, some key features, and many other things related to Android 7.0 Nougat:

  1. What’s in a name? – Well Android 7.0 is Android 7.0 – but when a mobile OS has a whopping 85% market share across the globe, every little detail matters. The reactions of the general public to ‘Nougat’ – the name finally chosen – has been mixed till now, with many feeling that it is a relatively lesser-known tasty treat (particularly outside Europe). The Android Nougat statue has also received a fair bit of flak, with lack of creativity being the biggest criticism against it (it’s a big Android drone standing on a large ‘N’, that’s all!). There is a general feeling among fans and Android app developers alike that Google wished to stay away from choosing a brand name (a la KitKat) and related license issues. Nougat was the next best possible solution. Oh, and it is pronounced as ‘NEW-GAT’.

          Note: There is a feeling that the name ‘Nutella’ was not chosen as it sounded rather uncomfortably similar to Nadella (Satya Nadella is the CEO of Microsoft, a direct competitor of Google).

  1. What’s new in Nougat? – In the Developer Preview 5 of Android Nougat, several interesting new features have been added. These include the final set of API level 24, an efficient emulator for mobile app testing, and Nexus system images. The new Android version also brings with it as many as 72 new emojis and quicker, more streamlined notifications. More on some of the other new features of Nougat later.
  2. What’s the early adoption rate going to be like? – On the lower side, just like the case with all the earlier versions of the platform. Unlike iOS iterations, Android versions are never ever off to a fast start. Last year’s Android Marshmallow has crawled up to a measly 13.3% adoption rate this month, with Lollipop and KitKat still being the two most popular versions of the platform (with 35% and 31% adoption rates respectively). To put things into context, the adoption rate of iOS 9 is inching towards the 85% mark. The rollout to the various Android vendors is expected to be uncertain as usual, and it won’t be surprising if Nougat takes a year (or two) to register a significant overall adoption rate.
  3. Will Nougat finally have native virtual reality support? – Yes, and according to professionals from the domain of mobile software and app development, it is going to be one of the biggest highlights of the version. The new VR platform in Android 7.0 is named ‘Daydream’, with built-in support for stereo notifications and head-tracking features. Third-party app makers will get the opportunity of adding true mobile-quality VR experiences in their applications (e.g., the option of single render buffering). In the third developer preview of Android Nougat, the latency graphics of the platform was tested (device: Nexus 6P) – and the motion-to-photon latency was found to be less than 20ms. To put it in another way, Android Nougat is well-equipped to provide users a uniformly immersive app-experience. It will certainly be an upgrade over Google Cardboard.
  4. What’s the news on the Direct Reply feature? – Direct Reply will be a feature that will debut on Android Nougat. With the help of this, people will be able to reply to notification popups – as and when they appear. The ‘Recent Applications’ feature has also been overhauled, and users can simply double-tap the ‘Overview’ button to move to the most recent app. The need to browse through several active app windows has been done away with.

Note: The build number for the Android Nougat update is NPD90G.

  1. Project Tango in Android 7.0? – Tango technology (‘Project Tango’ was the earlier in-house name) will be yet another interesting implementation in the upcoming version of Android. The new technology will allow handsets – those with compatible hardware, that is – to identify locations, without having to fall back on the GPS support. The Tango technology works by incorporating computer vision in tablets and smartphones. It did not make the cut in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, but will be definitely present this time.
  2.  Better battery performance in the new version? – Android users and mobile app developers expect Nougat to show improvements in battery performance. The much-appreciated Doze Mode – which arrived with Android 6.0 – has been tweaked around. Whenever the screen of a device goes off, the active apps are automatically moved to a special low-power mode (exceptions are made for important notifications). Earlier on, Doze used to kick in only after a handset had not been touched for a certain time-span.
  3. Optimized, stacked notifications panel? – The notifications panel in Android 7.0 Nougat will be more clutter-free than ever before. System updates will happen seamlessly in the background (as they happen in Chromebooks), and notifications from apps can be classified under as many as 6 different settings (Min, Low, Normal, High, Urgent Importance, apart from the ‘Blocked’ option). To access this, users have to go to ‘Settings’, toggle the ‘System UI Tuner’ to on, and then navigate to Other → Show Full Importance Settings → Apps. There is a slider that lets people alter the importance levels of notifications from different applications.

Note: In Android Nougat, a single-tap on the battery icon displays the remaining battery juice. A double-tap, on the other hand, shows the apps that are causing the highest battery drainage. Third-party applications will include a ‘Quick Settings’ tab.

  1. Will Multi-Window mode actually be present? – Reports about the arrival of Multi-Window feature in Android N have been buzzing ever since it was announced at Google I/O 2016. Users will be able to simultaneously operate two different Android apps – something that should add considerably to the convenience factor. What’s more, the relative screen sizes of the active apps will be customizable too (if supported by the device). Apps can be placed either side-by-side or on top of one another. This feature will be more than useful on tablets.

Note: Multi-window mode is coming to stock Android well after Samsung had introduced it with TouchWiz (earliest version: 3.0 Lite; latest version: 6.0).

     10. A boost to mobile graphics too? – OpenGL will be making way for the high-end Vulkan API in Android 7.0 Nougat. The new 3D rendering tool will allow Android game developers to deliver really high-end graphics, and bolster the engagement levels of their apps in the process. At the Mobile World Congress this year, Epic Games displayed the power of Vulkan with Unreal Engine. While OpenGL is not being stopped or anything, experts feel that Vulkan (or DirectX 12) support will be more in demand among game developers.

11. Looking beyond Google Hangouts? – Again, those who make software for Android do not expect Hangouts to be discontinued anytime soon. However, the arrival of Allo and Duo on the Android Nougat platform (Google’s riposte to iMessages and FaceTime, respectively) does indicate that Google has plans to gradually phase out Hangouts. Allo will have both voice and SMS support, and will complement the already-efficient Google Now assistant. Duo, on the other hand, is being billed as a ‘video-calling app for everyone.’

   12. What’s uncertain and what misses out? – While the 3D Touch feature (like the one present on iOS) was mentioned in the early Preview documents, it will not be present in the final release of Android Nougat. Google has been working on Project Svelte (for smoother performance of newer versions of the platform on older, underpowered devices) since the days of KitKat – but that is unlikely to be implemented in the upcoming version either. Since ‘Picture-in-Picture’ is being presented primarily as a feature for Android TV, it remains to be seen whether it arrives on smartphones and tablets too.

Note: Night Mode is likely to be present in Android Nougat. It will bring down the screen brightness with the help of a red filter, easing the strain on the eyes (when the background is dark).

Android 7.0 Nougat will bring in several important improvements in terms of productivity and security. The seamless updates will work with a robust file-based encryption, to make devices more secure than ever before. The ‘Clear All’ feature (a productivity enhancement), will let  users close multiple app tabs at one go.

The new Nexus phones by HTC – Sailfish and Marlin – will be the devices Nougat will debut on. LG and Samsung are likely to get it next up, while a clear picture of when the update will be available for other vendors is not yet available. One thing is for certain though – Android Nougat will launch soon enough, but its rollout is likely to continue well into 2017.

Jailbreaking An iOS 9.2 – 9.3.3 Device: All That You Need To Know

Hussain Fakhruddin
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Hussain Fakhruddin

Hussain Fakhruddin is the founder/CEO of Teknowledge mobile apps company. He heads a large team of app developers, and has overseen the creation of nearly 600 applications. Apart from app development, his interests include reading, traveling and online blogging.
Hussain Fakhruddin
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Last week, Team Pangu finally announced the arrival of a stable tool for jailbreaking iOS 9.3.3, with backward jailbreaking compatibility till iOS 9.2. By making the tool available to end users, Pangu also reclaimed its position (as an ‘iOS jailbreak leader’) from TaiG – which led the way when iOS 8.3 and 8.4 were launched. In today’s discussion, we focus on the main features, interesting points and some necessary steps for using the new Pangu tool for iOS 9.2-9.3.3 jailbreak:

  1. Device compatibility – The latest version of the free jailbreak tool brought out by Pangu can be used ONLY on 64-bit Apple devices. Apart from iPhone 6S and 6S Plus (the maximum interest is for the flagship smartphones), people can use it to jailbreak iPhone SE, iPhone 6/6 Plus, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 4 and the new iPad Pro-s (both the 9.7” and 12.9” models). iPhone 5S is also supported, although there are odd chances of the jailbreak not working properly on the ‘older’ handset. The 6th-generation iPod Touch can be jailbroken with the new Pangu tool too.
  2. The disadvantages of using the tool right now – Tweaking around with an expensive iDevice without being aware of the probable consequences would be all too naive. As is often reiterated by Apple experts and specialized iPhone app developers, doing a jailbreak renders all existing warranties on a device null and void (unless, of course, Cydia impactor is used to completely restore/unjailbreak the concerned handset). There are certain other iffy things about the Pangu jailbreak tool too. For starters, the tool is available only in Chinese as of now – and many feel that it would be prudent to wait for a stable English version to release, before performing the jailbreak. A bigger downside of the new iOS 9.2 – 9.3.3 jailbreak tool, however, is that it is ‘semi-tethered’ (and not ‘untethered’, as jailbreak tools usually are). This means that users have to re-jailbreak their devices every time they reboot their handset – even if the device had switched off on its own (battery exhaustion, anyone?). Generally, jailbreaking is a ‘once and done’ task – but this one is a (not-too-convenient) exception.
  3. OTA update or download via iTunes – Oh well, it’s a no-brainer that you have to update your iDevice to iOS 9.3.3 (the latest firmware version of Apple that the Pangu tool supports). However, professionals from the field of mobile app development have reported that the tool does not always play nice with updates that have been done over-the-air (OTA). It is advisable to download the latest iOS version through iTunes, and then proceed with the jailbreak.

   Note: A 25 PP installer is required to perform the iOS 9.2 – iOS 9.3 jailbreak procedure. Hence, you will need a Windows PC to go ahead with the tool.

  1. Why do the jailbreak? – As already highlighted, there are several points of concern with the recently released Pangu jailbreak tool. So why bother using it at all? The potential advantages are plenty: after a successful jailbreak and installation of the Pangu 9.2 app (visible on the Home screen), users can browse, pick and choose from a much, much wider range of third-party iOS applications, and even play around with the available shortcuts and animation features. There are quite a lot of tools in the Cydia store that are worth checking out as well. For avid gamers, there’s another big motivation for doing the jailbreak. Doing so would allow them to fake their actual locations while playing ‘Pokemon Go’. Catching Pikachu might become just a tad easier!
  2. The need for prior backup – This one is very important. Mobile software developers and those who make apps repeatedly warn users that jailbreaking might lead to loss of stored data. It, hence, is almost mandatory to take a complete data backup before applying the new jailbreak tool – either in iTunes or on iCloud. Also, make sure that Touch ID, Passcode and Find My iPhone are deactivated. You can toggle them back on after the jailbreak is done.
  3. Create a new Apple ID for the jailbreak – Jailbreaking an Apple device brings along security concerns. To avoid these, it is a good idea to create a throwaway Apple ID for the purpose, and not use your regular credentials. Of course, you might be asked to enter a captcha instead of providing Apple ID credentials (after the device to be jailbroken is connected to a PC with an USB cable, the PP icon is visible, and the user has selected the ‘Run as administrator’ option). The Apple developer profile details are, at times, required to sideload the PP jailbreak tool.
  4. Disconnect the paired Apple Watch – If you have one connected to your iPhone that is to be jailbroken, that is. At the very start, turn off the Bluetooth feature on your handset, so that paired device(s) are not affected by the jailbreak in any way. Remember, the Pangu tool is meant for the iOS platform only – it is not supposed to work on watchOS, an entirely different platform.
  5. Starting the jailbreak process – Okay then, all precautions have been taken, and you can now move on to the actual jailbreaking. After you see the PP jailbreak app on your phone screen, navigate to Settings → General → Device Management. In the Pangu developer profile, you should see the Apple ID you had entered earlier. Tap the ‘Trust’ tab below it to initiate the jailbreak.
  6. Delays and warning messages – iPhone-owners have reported certain problems and warning messages that pop up while the jailbreak is going on. This has been corroborated by iOS app developers as well. For instance, the ring within the green box that rotates during the jailbreak might become unresponsive. In case you face this problem and nothing happens after 5-6 minutes, close the jailbreak app, and restart it a little later. A ‘Storage Almost Full’ message might also be flashed after jailbreak is complete and the Cydia app is being installed. There is no need to worry about this message, thankfully.
  7. Be careful with the tweaks – The new model of the Pangu jailbreak tool has plenty of tweaks – but that does not mean you should install them all. Compatibility can be an issue on the various iOS versions, and certain tweaks can even brick your iDevice altogether. Backup your device at the very start, and choose the tweaks you download on your handset very carefully.

Note: When you reboot a previously jailbroken iOS 9.2 – 9.3.3 phone, the Cydia application will become inactive. This is not a glitch, but a feature of the ‘semi-tethered’ Pangu jailbreak tool. Every time the device reboots, it becomes ‘unjailbroken’.

     11. Manually lock your phone after accepting push notifications – After being installed, the Pangu PP app will ask for permission to send push notifications to your device. According to iPhone developers and testers, you need to accept it, and then lock the device manually (i.e., simply quick press the Power button). When you unlock the screen next, a message from the PP app will be visible, indicating that the jailbreak has been successfully performed.

Note: Cydia should be present on your device at this stage.

     12. Launching Cydia for the first time – After your device reboots automatically, you can launch the Cydia app from the Home screen. When you do this for the first time, the application will spend some time for ‘preparing filesystem’. Avoid handling your device (unless prompted to do so) while the jailbreak is going on.

While Pangu has been the first to release a working iOS 9.2 – 9.3.3 free jailbreak tool, other teams (like K33n and TaiG) are also working on similar applications. Luca Todesco, an iPhone developer and the brain behind iOS 8.4.1 jailbreak, might launch a new tool as well. The Kernel Patch Protections (KPP) layer of iOS 9 should not pose any problems – since iOS 9 has already been jailbroken successfully by Pangu by last September itself.


Disclaimer: This article does not encourage iOS jailbreak in any way. The purpose of this write-up is solely informative, and readers should use their discretion to decide whether to jailbreak their devices or not right now.