Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Android 4.4.2 changes get detailed

As mentioned before, the Android 4.4.2 update for the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition has started rolling out to owners in the US. now we're getting a glimpse of some of the changes in this update, which are admittedly interesting, if you're the type who have accepted the Samsung TouchWiz way of life.

Of course, we're going to see some of the same changes that run across all Android 4.4 versions, like the monochromatic notification icons. However, unlike other Galaxy devices upgraded to the latest Android version, Samsung is throwing in a lot more in its 10.1-inch S-Pen enabled tablet. Most obvious perhaps would also be related to notifications, Samsung's own custom notification panel. This has been revamped with the flat theme that Samsung is believed to be pushing going forward. The Multi Window bar has also been revamped, pushing it all the way to the right and now taking up two rows, making it quite similar to Samsung's Galaxy Pro tablet line. Another visual change, to more subtle this time, is the new task manager or recent apps list.

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But the Android 4.4 update isn't all about fluff. There are also positive changes under the hood that are being reported by users. Performance is deemed faster across the board, including the Samsung web browser. There has been noticeable reduction in lag as well especially in waking up the device and in the S-Pen response time. Battery life has also been improved, partly thanks to the improvements coming from Android 4.4 itself. Some of Samsung's apps and proprietary features have reportedly also been modified just a tiny bit, particularly those related to S Pen functionality.

These are definitely some huge and positive changes, especially for users of some of TouchWiz's more useful features. The Android 4.4.2 update comes in a very large 540 MB files size, so users best be prepared for the occasion when the update notification finally hits their device.

VIA: XDA (1), (2)

Samsung plans for flexible screen on next-gen of smartphones leak, features interactive side-pane

Flexible 1

The race to release the first smartphone with a flexible screen is over. The LG G Flex and Samsung Galaxy Round have been released in all their glory. Now, the race begins to create an a smartphone that actually utilizes the flexible screen correctly.

Some Samsung sketches just leaked, which show exactly what they’re trying to do here with their next generation of smartphones. These ideas aren’t anything new, as Samsung showed us a prototype with a bent screen on the side of the device, creating a control/information bar.

Bloomberg brings us today’s leaked plans. Hit the break to see just a few things that could be done with such a phone:

1. Slide to lock/unlock functionality and battery charge indicators could be located on an “always-on” side-screen.

Flexible 12. The ability to arrange and navigate through photo gallery via folder or dates, or by a combination of touch/tilt gestures.

Flexible 2

 

3. Quickly navigate through long list-apps such as address books or bookmarks in an e-book.

Flexible 3

 

4. Easily store items on the side screen for later sharing/viewing use. (View-able copy/paste clipboard)

Flexible 4

 

5. See more details about certain items, such as the size of attachments on messages.

Flexible 5

 

If you ask me, I’d say these features beat out the G Flex and Galaxy Round in just about every single category. It’ll be exciting to see what gets implemented and all of the other possibilities for this new technology. The folks over at Unwired actually suggested that this could make for a legitimate use for Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. (Until, of course, Google implements the flexible display hardware into Android, and once again reduces the need for TouchWiz…)

Via: Unwired
Source: US Patent and Trademark Office


Come comment on this article: Samsung plans for flexible screen on next-gen of smartphones leak, features interactive side-pane

A month in the life of a Galaxy Note 3 owner

This is my Note 3, there are many like it but this one is mine.

This is my Note 3, there are many like it but this one is mine.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 has been a fairly big deal. In its first month of existence, it’s sold over 5 million units. It’s had positive reviews from tech sites and consumers alike. So what is it like to actually use one everyday? I bought the Note 3 on release day and have been using it for about a month now and I’d like to share my experience with you. It’s important to note that this is not a review. If you’d like to see a review, check out our official review by Josh Vergara.


Galaxy Note 3

I prefer an Aviate-like 2-screen set up to 5 screens.

My Note 3 set up

For the first few weeks I had the Note 3 set up like pretty much every Note 3 owner will. I had divided up my 5 home screens into modules that held certain types of apps. This included my default home screen, games, work related apps, social networking and messaging, and one for root apps. However, about two weeks ago, I got to try out Aviate and loved the premise. The app still needed work so I migrated over to Nova Launcher (which I had purchased for a launcher comparison video I did earlier this year). Using the settings, I cut it down to two home screens and arranged them like Aviate would have. That is, a few favorites and a widget on the main screen, and folders on the second screen arranged in categories like in Aviate.

With this set up I can get to everything I need and it’s actually the first time I’ve ever left the stock launcher with no intention of going back. I don’t think the Touchwiz Launcher is bad, I had just discovered a more efficient way of using my phone. For most, the five home screen set up is just fine.

For the most part, the plethora of Samsung options on my phone remain off. I’ve always adored Smart Stay and that’s on, but the other Smart Screen features are off. Air view and Air gesture are both off. I left Air command on because that’s actually useful. The only option in Motions that I have enabled is Smart alert. I have Palm motion on so I can take quick screen shots and Multi-window is on in full capacity. That’s really is folks. Voice control is off, Hands-free mode is off, and One-handed operation is off.

Since we are talking about my experience here, I’ll go ahead and add that I rooted my device and am running a custom ROM. Unlike most people who look for features and such in their ROMs, I flashed mine because when I remove and insert the S-Pen, it makes light saber noises. This is a serious win for me. I’m aware that you can have these sounds without flashing a specific ROM, but the ROM itself is pretty nice too. You can find it here if you’re interested and there’s a matching one for the Note 2.

Quick stats and thoughts for my set up and the Note 3 software overall

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  • I have 151 applications installed and this includes close to 20 games. I have 18.46GB of space (out of 32GB) remaining. This means that the extra space the OS takes up is completely unimportant and people who complain that so much space is taken have no legs to stand on in my mind’s eye. I could easily double the number of apps installed (200 apps, 40 games) before storage would begin to be a concern.
  • The settings menu would be awesome if you could swipe between tabs. Really.
  • I have Knox entirely removed from the ROM because I broke it when I rooted the device. Since I rooted my device on day one, I have no idea what it actually does or how it works.
  • The S-Pen works just fine as far as I can tell. Haven’t had any weird bugs or glitches with my use so far.
  • My Magazine sucks compared to Blinkfeed. There, I said it.
  • This is the first phone I’ve owned since the original HTC EVO 4G that I decided to store my music on thanks to a 64GB SD card. I now remember why people love SD card slots so much.
  • Compared to Boomsound, the speaker on the Note 3 is not good. I had to buy an external speaker because Boomsound spoiled me.
  • I love that the S-Pen works with the Back and Menu buttons now.

Galaxy Note 3

Admittedly, I leave what I don’t use turned off and that is most things on this phone.

Galaxy Note 3 battery life

After struggling for months to keep my HTC One charged, the 3200mAh battery in the Note 3 was a breath of the freshest air ever. In my first few days, I was doing about six hours of screen on time a day and the phone was taking it all in one charge. On most days, I get 12-16 hours of battery life and that’s with some seriously heavy use. This includes gaming (Clash of Clans, Final Fantasy remakes, console emulators), messaging, social networking, YouTube videos, reading articles, checking email, and pretty much everything else you can do with a phone during the day.

After a few weeks I’ve determined that, at least for my usage, the phone will live until six hours of screen-on time is achieved. Whether this takes 12 hours or 36 hours seems to be irrelevant. Again, this is just my experience so your mileage may vary. The best I’ve done is 36 hours and I had 5 1/2 hours of screen-on time. Considering I spent about 6 of those hours sleeping, that’s really, really good. About the only app that really affects the battery in a big way is Clash of Clans. This is likely due to the multiplayer aspect –which requires a lot of data use– and I can hammer my Note 3 battery into the ground in 8 hours if I’m really into Clash of Clans on a certain day. Otherwise, the Note 3′s battery life is among the best I’ve ever had.


Galaxy Note 3

Performance for games is fantastic.

Performance

I have yet to meet a device that never lags. When I shared my experience with the HTC One, I said that it was the closest I’d ever come to owning a device with no lag. The Note 3 challenges that. Even though everyone said that Touchwiz would bog down the phone, I simply haven’t seen a lot of evidence of this. Web pages load and scroll well, pinch to zoom is fluid and smooth, gaming is smooth, the general experience (swiping home screens, navigating settings) are speedy, and even scrolling long lists seems to be faster and smoother.

In terms of gaming, my benchmark is a PlayStation emulator. With all the best settings and OpenGL mode on, the phone has to work somewhat hard to keep everything at a solid frame rate. The first phone I ever owned that could keep it going consistently was the HTC One and now I can add the Galaxy Note 3 to that list. With all the highest settings enabled, the frame rate stays at wherever I put it for hours. Games like Final Fantasy IV, Riptide GP 2, Clash of Clans, Final Fantasy V, and Asphalt 8 Airborne run smooth. There is the occasional hiccup, but I’ll talk more about that in a moment. It’s going to be a long time before game developers make a game that the Note 3 won’t be able to run competently.

The only two places I see lag are scrolling through the widget selection screen and the occasional lag of some games. When games lag, it’s literally for a moment and it doesn’t happen very often. The widget selection screen lags for pretty much everyone at least sometimes and if you give it a moment to “load” up, then it scrolls through the widget selections with buttery smoothness.

Like the HTC One, I wish I had more to discuss here but I simply don’t. Phones that have come out this year are incredible and the Note 3 is no exception. In terms of real world use, it’s as zippy as you can possibly expect it to be. With the exception of the very occasional hiccup, this device simply doesn’t lag.


The Good

Samsung Galaxy Note 3 vs Galaxy S4 aa (30)

Okay, so the above is tl;dr, here’s a list of the things I like about this device.

  • The screen is gigantic and gorgeous. The colors are a little over-saturated but I prefer it that way. I have no problems holding this phone most of the time. The only real issue is typing with one hand.
  • 3GB RAM, 330 Adreno, and the Snapdragon 800 work together brilliantly to kill off all but the most occasional lag. I turn this phone on sometimes just to swipe home screens because it’s fun to watch.
  • Gaming is excellent. I’m talking about actual games, not like fun time wasters like Scramble or Angry Birds.
  • The camera is excellent. You guys said you wanted me to take more photos and such and this time I did. You can view a few pictures I took with the camera here and a video I uploaded here.
  • The design is greatly improved. It’s not as good as the HTC One, but the faux leather back actually feels nice and the ridges on the side look nice. I enjoy looking at and holding this phone more than I did with my Galaxy Note 2.
  • SD card slot for the win. With the 64GB card, I have my entire music library on here now and I’ve come to enjoy not streaming music.
  • Giant battery for the win. Many people like that it’s removable, but frankly I don’t mind either way. I just like that it’s a big battery.
  • S-Pen, even if not always useful, is nice to have.
  • There are some genuinely useful and fun features with the Note 3. These include Smart Stay, Palm Motion, and Multi-Window. I use them all on pretty much a daily basis.
  • The camera bump on the back protects itself. The glass that protects the camera lens is recessed into the bump, so you can set it on your desk without scratching the glass. This is a big deal to me. The metal actually does this on the front too so you can lay your phone on the screen side without the screen touching the surface.
  • USB 3.0 support is awesome.

The Bad

Again for the tl;dr people, here is a list of the thing’s I don’t enjoy so much.

  • The smart stabilization feature is great except in low light. In low light it’s very terrible.
  • Can’t swipe tabs in the Settings. Tsk tsk, Samsung.
  • I got one of the units with the jiggly home button. It’s not bad enough to have it replaced or make a big fuss, but it is there.
  • Rooting this device in the more preferable manner (with custom recovery so you can flash ROMs) breaks Knox permanently. That’s brilliant if you’re Samsung and you don’t want to honor warranties. That sucks if you’re everyone else.
  • While there is less lag on this device than any other device I’ve ever owned, there is still lag and it’s always during an important scene in a game I’m trying to play.
  • Like the HTC One, the worst thing about the Note 3 is trying to objectively come up with things I don’t like about the Note 3.
  • The keyboard is almost there. Almost. I actually like the look and the feel of it, but the auto correct is a little too aggressive for my tastes.

Wrap Up

Beautiful bezels and edges on this device.

Beautiful bezels and edges on this device.

When I had my Note 2, all I could think about was how awesome that phone would be with a little more horsepower. When I had my HTC One, all I could think about was if a phone was released with that much horsepower and more size. Over the course of the month with my Note 3, I realized that this was the device I had been pining for. The giant screen, the amazing specs, the great performance, the add-ons (like S-Pen), and everything put together has made this device the new standard from which I’ll be judging all future devices.

The worst part of the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is wishing that other OEMs would put some focus into this form factor. The Note series has sold tens of millions of devices over the past several years and Samsung really is all alone in the phablet space. This is wildly depressing because this form factor deserves serious attention. If this is what Samsung can do with this form factor, imagine what other leading OEM’s could do if they gave it the old college try.

So that’s been my experience over the last four to five weeks with the Galaxy Note 3. My fellow Note 3 owners, if you’d like to share your experience or have a comment about mine, feel free to post them in the comments.

Check out our official Galaxy Note 3 review here, our YouTube videos here, and our other Galaxy Note 3 content, here! 


    






Galaxy S4 Lockscreen app imitates Samsung TouchWiz version

Most of the major smartphone manufacturers put their own twist to the Android user interface, which some users of other brands might have found to be more useful than their stock options. Fans of Samsung‘s lockscreen on the Galaxy S 4 might now have a chance to get that feature on non-Samsung devices thanks to this new third-party app.

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Samsung’s TouchWiz lockscreen can be described as both plain, useful, and sometimes even mildly annoying all at the same time. Aside from displaying information such as date and time and carrier information, the lockscreen also supports app shortcuts and notifications that can be launched with a simple swiping gesture. It also features a ripple effect that has become a signature of Samsung’s Galaxy devices, which might get tiring after the pretty novelty has worn off.

This Galaxy S4 Lockscreen app brings all those to other Android smartphones and adds in a few bonus features. The app will replace your current lockscreen but it will let you choose some customization options such as color or let users switch between ripple or lens flare effects. Using this lockscreen app, however, will mean saying goodbye to any lockscreen widgets you might be using, as the app, or the original lockscreen for that matter, does not support such widgets.

galaxy-s4-lockscreen-2

The Galaxy S4 Locksreen app is available for free from Google Play Store so if you’re one of those who have been won over by Samsung’s implementation, you might want to hit the link below. Do take note that this is a third-party app and is in no way officially associated with Samsung, so the usual precautions and disclaimers apply.

Download: Galaxy S4 Lockscreen on Google Play Store
VIA: SamMobile

Galaxy S4 user interface walkthrough available before launch

samsung galaxy S4 logo aa 600

In addition to benchmarking the Exynos 5 Octa-based Galaxy S4 version (model number GT-I9500,) Sam Mobile also took the handset for a hands-on spin looking at several elements of its user interface including the Home screen, the Gallery app, the Camera app, the Settings and the simpler side of using the Galaxy S4, the Easy Mode version of TouchWiz.

The publication says that while the handset comes with a new TouchWiz version on top of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean – TouchWiz Nature UX 2.0 – Galaxy S3 owners will be very familiar with the overall interface when switching over. Apparently the new UI is “more of an evolution than a revolution,” although you’re going to discover “an overall new fresh look,” that will offer many changes.

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Looking at the Gallery app, the site noted that it’s somewhat more limited than the Galaxy S3’s and Galaxy Note 2’s similar app. Apparently there’s no way of changing preview stiles like on the Galaxy S3, but there’s a new “Content to display” feature that lets users choose what kind of display to show, and even import it from other sources such as Facebook, Dropbox and others.

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In its turn, the Camera app has been completely redesigned. The application is similar to the Galaxy Camera app, although it also features “tons and tons” of new features including Dual Camera, Sound & Shot, Drama Shot and Story Album (in case you have no idea what these features are, check out our previous coverage on the Galaxy S4’s software features).

galaxy-s4-exynos-5-octa-user-interface-camera

The Galaxy S4’s Settings will apparently make you feel like “you are using a completely different operating system instead of Android.” That’s certainly on par with Samsung’s lack of acknowledgement for Android – during the Galaxy S4 media event, the company hardly spoke about the phones actual operating system and instead focused on its own stuff. Getting back to the Settings section, you’ll notice a new tabbed interface that comes with demos ready to help you use a certain feature.

galaxy-s4-exynos-5-octa-user-interface-settings

The Easy Mode is a TouchWiz feature that lets users access a simplified user interface, which could be suitable to those smartphone users not comfortable with touchscreen-based UIs. The Easy Mode was seen before in the Galaxy S3 Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update, but it’s apparently not as good looking as the Galaxy S4’s.

Sam Mobile apparently worked with a GT-I9500 version that was running the latest test firmware, although changes may still appear by the time the device hits stores. The same publication made available several elements of the Galaxy S4 firmware, including wallpapers, ring tones and the full system dump, in case you’re interested in experiencing the Galaxy S4 environment before the phone actually launches.

Are you buying the Galaxy S4 later this year?

The post Galaxy S4 user interface walkthrough available before launch appeared first on Android Authority.

CyanogenMod founder Steve Kondik talks GALAXY S 4

CyanogenMod founder Steve Kondik had been employed with Samsung since August 2011 however that employment has since come to an end. But perhaps key for those curious about the GALAXY S 4, Kondik has taken to Google+ and shared his thoughts on the handset. At the risk of giving a spoiler, he seems to be fairly impressed with the GALAXY S 4.

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Kondik noted that the time he spent with the GALAXY S 4 was using the final hardware. He says that he is a huge fan of the Galaxy S III and in fact, he uses one every day. Based on that knowledge, he said that he was “quite pleased” with the GALAXY S 4. Before any Galaxy S III users being planning to upgrade, there was some talk of that. Kondik noted that the GALAXY S 4 is a “clear choice” if you have a Galaxy S II, but that upgrading from a Galaxy S III is “less urgent.”

Talk of the GALAXY S 4 touched on how the device feels “quite a bit more solid” than the Galaxy S III and about how there are a number of unique features that have potential. As for that, Kondik notes that the potential is hinged upon Samsung releasing an API. Some of those features include the hover functionality and the IR blaster. Otherwise, Kondik has said that both the front and back cameras are excellent and that the GPS seems to work better than any other Samsung device. All said and done, he seems to really like the handset.

Shifting over to TouchWiz and the same cannot necessarily be said. In fact, it seems that goes in the opposite direction with comments such as how “it feels like it has been sent back a few years to the Froyo days.” Some of the specifics mentioned include TouchWiz as having a fully tabbed UI, more pop-up windows and “loading” dialogs and that the UI performance is only “average.

Thankfully though, the features seem a bit more welcomed. Some of the specifics here included hover, multi-window and a bit about the camera app having “seen some significant upgrades.” On the flip side, his least favorite was Smart Srcoll. Bottom line here, there seems to be some good and some bad.

[via Google+]

CyanogenMod founder Steve Kondik parts ways with Samsung, trashes TouchWiz in the process

While Samsung doesn’t always play nice with the independent developers looking to hack their devices, they still recognize talent when they see it. That’s why Steve Kondik, founder of CyanogenMod, was brought in to help put some polish on the company’s Android implementation. Less than two years later Kondik is parting ways with Samsung. The [...]

Steve Kondik, CyanogenMod founder, leaves Samsung, has a few words on TouchWiz

If you’ve had any experience playing around with custom Android ROMs, then it’s likely you’ve heard of CyanogenMod and its founder, Steve Kondik. As you may also know, Steve went to work at Samsung in August 2011. As announced on his Google+, Steve has left Samsung and appears to be headed to greener pastures in [...]

This TouchWiz ‘security flaw’ is so ridiculous it’s no wonder Samsung overlooked it


There is a new Samsung TouchWiz security scare being bandied about the internet today. In a video demonstration, a Galaxy Note 2 owner shows how a glitch gives anyone opening the phone’s emergency dialer access to the handset’s home screen…for less than a second.

Yes, the video successfully demonstrates that an individual, with enough effort, can gain access to a Samsung device using this method to bypass the lock screen. It involves downloading a lock screen removal app from the Google Play Store via a series of deftly placed taps during the infinitesimal period of time the would-be phone thief has access to the device’s software.

The only problem is that a whole bunch of things need to go right in order for this to happen. There is the small matter of navigating to the Google Play Store, activating voice search, finding the proper app, and hoping the app shortcut lands in an easy to tap area. There is the matter of registering that tap (or any of the taps before it) within the allotted time. In other words, this seems like an awful lot of work for the average crook looking to get inside your phone. We doubt anyone would have even thought of this if it wasn’t for the obsessed tinkering of this individual Note 2 owner.

Anyway, freak out if you want. It seems like a super easy fix for Samsung, if they even bother patching it. To us, though, this security “flaw” smells more like a security fail.

[via Terrence Eden]

HTC One versus Samsung Galaxy S4 – the ultimate 2013 Android showdown

It’s nearly impossible to go a full week without a new Android phone being announced these days. Samsung,  HTC, Sony, Huawei, LG and Motorola will each deliver 10-15 new Android-powered devices this year, but our focus and consumer dollars will be appropriated to only a handful of flagship...

Visit our site to read the full article.