Sunday, December 31, 2017

Xiaomi Mi A1 Android Oreo Update Now Officially Rolling Out

The Mi A1 is different from other Xiaomi devices, because of the fact that it is Xiaomi's first Android One smartphone. It was also one of the first Android One devices to feature mid-range specifications, instead of being an entry-level device. Launched in September, the Xiaomi Mi A1 has decent hardware for its price: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 system-on-chip, 4GB of RAM paired with 64GB of storage, a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display, dual 12MP+12MP rear cameras, and a 3080mAh battery.

The highlight of the device is its software: it's powered by nearly stock Android 7.1 Nougat with a few additions such as the MIUI camera app. At launch, Xiaomi promised that the Oreo update would be released before the end of the year, and started looking for beta testers at the start of December. The beta update started rolling-out a week later, and it was found that it contained fast charging support (which was tested with the OnePlus Dash Charger).

Now, Xiaomi has finally fulfilled its promise, as the Android 8.0 Oreo update has started rolling-out to the Mi A1. The update is 1107MB in download size, and brings the December 1, 2017 security patch (and not the January 1, 2018 patch which some beta testers were receiving). It also has standard Oreo features such as picture-in-picture mode, smart text selection, adaptive icons, notification dots, and others.

Xiaomi Mi A1 Android Oreo Update

For now, it's unknown whether the final stable build retains the fast charging support which was found in the beta build earlier. Xiaomi mentions that in order to install the update, users will need to be on the latest December update (7.12.19). Also, the update is currently being rolled-out in batches, so all users won't receive the update notification at the same time. The roll-out will be completed in the near future.

This is welcome news for stock Android enthusiasts, although it's worth noting that kernel sources for the device still haven't been released. Regardless, the update increases the value of the device, which we found to be a pretty good investment already.

Source: MIUI Forums

from xda-developers

OnePlus 3/3T Owners on OxygenOS 5.0.1 are being warned by Play Protect to uninstall “FactoryMode”

The Android Oreo update for the OnePlus 3 & 3T started to roll out last month in the form of OxygenOS 5.0. Today, the company announced the broad availability of OxygenOS 5.0.1 which adds a support for Qualcomm's aptX HD Bluetooth audio codec, a new Adaptive screen calibration mode, December security patches, and more. Since the update started to roll out, numerous users have been greeted with a message from Google Play Protect telling them uninstall a "harmful app" called "FactoryMode."

Numerous reports from users over on the OnePlus forums and on Reddit show that this message seems to be widespread. The message states that the FactoryMode app "contains code that attempts to bypass Android's security protections." This is a rather vague message, but sounds pretty concerning nonetheless. So what's going on?

OnePlus 3 FactoryMode Play Protect OxygenOS 5.0.1

Play Protect Warning Users to Uninstall FactoryMode. Credits: /u/speedlever

Apparently, the FactoryMode application replaces what was previously EngineerMode, the pre-installed system app that was exploited to gain root access. OnePlus ultimately removed the root methods which were only accessible to a user with physical access to a device and ADB enabled, and they also chose to remove EngineerMode and rebrand it as FactoryMode.

For whatever reason, Google Play Protect has determined that there is some code within the FactoryMode app that is potentially harmful to security. Google Play Protect works by scanning the code of apps and looking for fingerprints that match a known collection of harmful code. It's not perfect by any means, but the database is ever growing and totally inaccessible from users so as to hide what Google is able to detect.

As such, Play Protect does not specify what code in an app is deemed harmful. Apps such as Viper4Android have triggered this message due to functionality related to changing the SELinux status to permissive. It's possible that the FactoryMode app contains something similar which is used by OnePlus for diagnostics. Keep in mind that the FactoryMode app is a pre-installed system application, so it already has more privileges than a standard Android app.

For now, you can ignore the request from Play Protect to uninstall FactoryMode because it's unlikely there's anything that is actually harmful to the user in there. However, this does still lead us to question why Play Protect is flagging FactoryMode as a harmful application in the first place, and we hope that OnePlus will have an answer on that matter in the near future. We've reached out to OnePlus for comment and will update this article when we have received a response.

Uninstall FactoryMode

If you want to uninstall the application, then you can enter the following ADB commands (taken from our guide on uninstalling system bloatware) in order to get rid of it:

  adb shell pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.oneplus.factorymode    adb shell pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.oneplus.factorymode.specialtest  

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Hands-On Overview of Android Oreo-based OmniROM on the OnePlus 5T

One disappointing aspect of the OnePlus 5T was that it shipped with Android Nougat instead of Oreo. (Even the Oreo beta the company pushed Friday is only 8.0.) But if you're interested in getting Android 8.1 on your 5T and you don't mind going the custom ROM route, there are several options available in our forums. One I spent time with recently was the first one published in our subforum, OmniROM.

OmniROM Features

In addition to standard Android 8.1 goodies like the redesigned power menu, fading navbar buttons, and inverted navbar backgrounds, OmniROM offers a plethora of custom features such as advanced reboot, dual-column settings, dynamic notification drawer headers, and OmniSwitch (just to name a few). Below is a screenshot gallery showcasing a sampling of these features, along with a small description of them.

Check out the hands-on video by Miles Somerville, my colleague, for more:

My favorite feature of OnePlus 5T custom ROMs is the ability to apply system themes via OMS, which became a lot easier with the advent of Android 8.0. In the case of OmniROM, I use Substratum to apply my themes — you can see screenshots with the Valerie Substratum theme applied below.

Taking Pictures While Running OmniROM

One of the biggest caveats of custom ROMs on all devices (but particularly OnePlus devices) is that you usually can't take advantage of the camera app and enhanced post-processing from the device's stock ROM, since it requires dependencies coded into the OEM firmware. The OnePlus 5T is no exception, which means the quality of the pictures you take are often inferior to those captured with the stock camera app.

To measure the severity of the problem on OmniROM, I compared several pictures taken in daytime and in low-light conditions using my first-generation Pixel XL (using the Google Camera application with HDR+ activated) to  (1) the stock OmniROM camera app in HDR mode on my 5T, and (2) a Google Camera port with HDR+ activated. You can see the three-way comparison in daylight conditions here and in low-light conditions here. I highly recommend using the Google Camera port — pictures taken with it rival those taken from the Pixel XL in quality. The stock OmniROM camera app is no slouch in daylight, but there was a noticeable drop-off in quality under low-light environments.


While the number of Android Oreo-based ROMs for the OnePlus 5T has grown substantially in recent weeks, OmniROM has some unique features that you might come to prefer. If you're looking for a no-frills, easy-to-configure ROM that won't bog down your phone with bloatware, look no further.

Eager to flash it on your OnePlus 5T? Check out the official XDA Forums thread, where you'll find step-by-step instructions on how to install it.

Source: OmniRom 8.0/8.1 [OP5T]

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Get Google Pixel 2’s Portrait Mode on the Pixel, Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P

The camera on the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL is seen as one of the best smartphone cameras this year. Google put a lot of thought into how to tweak their camera software, and it really shows. Google Camera and its HDR+ algorithm is highly sought after, prompting some developers to go as far as porting it to other devices. Other Pixel 2 camera features such as Motion Photos and Face Retouching have also been ported to some devices, and now, the most popular camera feature, Portrait Mode, is now available on the first generation Google Pixel & Pixel XL, Google Nexus 5X, and Nexus 6P.

This development is thanks to XDA Senior Member Charles_l who publishes Google Camera mods on his website Chromloop. His previous mods have brought features such as Zero Shutter Lag (ZSL) with HDR+, 60FPS video recording at high resolutions, and the aforementioned Motion Photos and Face Retouching features. His camera modifications have also brought the new Stranger Things and Star Wars AR Stickers to the Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P without requiring any extra files, and now he has worked his magic to bring us Portrait Mode to the Nexus devices.

After announcing his success on our forums, he has made his modification available for everyone to install. His Google Camera mod, called Camera NX, is now at version 7.3 and is available over on his website Chromloop. He explains how he was able to achieve this modification over on his website, but the actual implementation is probably more complex than his short description lets on. Still, we're sure that most of you are interested in the final product given the incredible shots that Portrait Mode can create.

pixel 2 bokeh tech

Portrait Mode on the Google Pixel 2. Source: Google

If that describes you, then you can go ahead and grab the latest update to Camera NX and get Portrait Mode on your Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Google Nexus 5X, or Google Nexus 6P right now!

Download Camera NX v7.3 with Portrait Mode

You can also enable the ARCore mod and get the ARStickers by installing the following files provided by Chromloop.

Download AR Core Mod for Nexus 5X & Nexus 6P

Download AR Sticker Mod for Nexus 5X & Nexus 6P

Source: Chromloop 

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Canceled Lumia Device Shown Off in Video with Pen Input

Currently, the mobile operating system market resembles a duopoly, with Google's Android and Apple's iOS in a league of their own. It wasn't always this way, though. Smartphone enthusiasts will remember that at one time, Nokia's Symbian was the most widely used mobile operating system in the world. Symbian couldn't compete in the touchscreen era, but for a time, Microsoft's Windows Phone looked to be a credible competitor to Android and iOS.

Microsoft acquired Nokia's Devices and Services division in 2014, and Windows Phone was starting to succeed in the budget smartphone market in some countries. However, it all went downhill from there as Windows 10 Mobile — Windows Phone's successor — failed to take off in the market because of various reasons. In 2016, the company discontinued the Lumia smartphone lineup, and we haven't seen a new mobile device from Microsoft since then. It's worth noting, though, that rumors are abound regarding a new ARM-powered Surface device codenamed "Andromeda".

In the past, we've seen many phones leak after being canceled by Microsoft. Probably one of the most notable canceled smartphone leaks was the Nokia McLaren, which had 3D Touch functionality. Now, another prototype of a Windows Phone has shown up in a video, being used alongside the Lumia 950 XL and the Surface Pro 4.

The prototype was called the Lumia Hapanero, and the interesting thing to note is that it supports pen input via the Surface Pen. (It's also worth noting that Microsoft's "Andromeda" device is rumored to have note-taking capabilities.)

The Lumia Hapanero was supposed to be released at Build 2015. It had a Snapdragon 810 system-on-chip with 4GB of RAM. Microsoft was said to be testing two variants of the device: one with a Full HD display, the other with QHD resolution.

In the video, it's obvious that the Surface Pen doesn't work very well on the Lumia Hapanero, but it does indeed work. On the other hand, the Lumia 950 XL doesn't recognize any pen input. (The prototype versions of the Lumia 950 and 950 XL did support pen input, according to leaks.) Of course, the unfinished nature of pen input support doesn't matter as the device will obviously never be released in the market.

The prototype device is powered by an old version of Windows 10 Mobile. The unfortunate thing to note for Windows Mobile fans is that Microsoft has officially confirmed that Windows 10 Mobile won't receive any feature updates in the future.

Seeing the Lumia prototype in a video also reaffirms the "what could have been" question for Windows on mobile. Although it had a lot of potential, Microsoft failed to make the mobile platform competitive against its rivals. Here's hoping that the tech giant learns from its past mistakes to do better in the future.

Source: Windows Latest

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Become a Certified Network Engineer with this 11-Course Cisco Training

Being cut off from the outside world would be a disaster for any business. That's why the average network engineer gets paid $88,000 every year to keep things running smoothly. This rewarding career is open to anyone, and certified experts can work anywhere in the world.

As with many jobs, putting a certificate on your resume can really improve your prospects. The Cisco Associate Certification Training Bundle helps you pass the internationally-recognized Cisco exams, with 11 courses and 153 separate modules for only $79. Plus, you can use the code BESTOF17 for an extra 17% off at checkout.

Cisco Systems is the world's leading maker of networking equipment, so it makes sense that most companies value certified Cisco engineers. This bundle takes you through to Associate level, the second tier of the Cisco program.

Through hands-on videos, you'll learn how to install, maintain and troubleshoot any small branch network. The introductory course also looks at WAN technology, routing and switching, and basic security concepts.

In later modules, you'll discover how to handle complex enterprise networks — including tele-presence products and digital media — and meet professional IT standards. These skills can take you around the world, and being CCNA-certified instantly puts you ahead of the competition.

Worth $7,853, this professional training is now 98% off at $79 — order now and catalyze your tech education.

from xda-developers

OnePlus 5 Gets Face Unlock via Android Oreo-based OxygenOS Open Beta 3

If you have ever had the chance to play around with OnePlus' latest smartphone, the OnePlus 5T, you might played around with its new Face Unlock feature. For me, personally, it is as convenient, if not more so, than the rear fingerprint scanner when it comes to unlocking the phone. Since it only relies on the front facing camera, owners of previous phones, like the OnePlus 5, have been hoping for the feature to be ported over to their devices.

Luckily, said user requests were finally heard when OnePlus announced that Face Unlock would, in fact, be coming to the OnePlus 5. And they soon followed through that announcement, as they are now rolling out a third Open Beta (based on Android 8.0 Oreo) shortly after the stable OxygenOS 5.0 release. Aside from bringing in December security patches, it also brings the long awaited face unlock feature to the OnePlus 5. It works just like it would on the OnePlus 5T: tap the power button, and the phone will immediately unlock and skip the lock screen as soon as it recognizes your face.

If you would like to try out Face Unlock on your device, you will need to be enrolled in the OxygenOS Open Beta in case you aren't already. Download the update package from the OnePlus Downloads page when it becomes available and install it manually on your device by following the instructions listed on the OnePlus website.

Users on the stable branch who are not comfortable with beta software will need to wait until the official update with Face Unlock rolls out, presumably sometime in January. While it's only coming to the OnePlus 5 as of now, Carl Pei has also teased that the OnePlus 3 and the OnePlus 3T may receive the feature, but there is no confirmation regarding any such update with face unlock for those devices as of now.

Source: OnePlus Forums

from xda-developers

OxygenOS 5.0.1 Adds aptX HD, Adaptive Screen Mode, and December Security Patches for the OnePlus 3/3T

Last month, OnePlus released OxygenOS 5.0 based on Android Oreo for the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T, and since then have continued to release incremental open beta upgrades for these devices. Now, the company has released OxygenOS 5.0.1 which upgrades the OnePlus 3 and 3T to the December security patch and brings some other improvements like support for the aptX HD Bluetooth audio codec, an adaptive screen calibration mode, and more.

You can view the full, official changelog below.

  • Added support for aptX HD
  • Added Wi-Fi hotspot device manager
  • Added "adaptive mode" screen calibration
  • Updated Android security patch to December
  • General bug fixes and stability improvements

The upgrade to OxygenOS 5.0.1 is being sent out in the form of a staged rollout, meaning users will be receiving it over the coming days. Rooted users will have to flash the full zip file which will be downloaded through the on-phone updater, but it will replace the currently installed recovery and remove root access from the device once installed.

As for the December security patch, you can read our article about the fixes that it brought here. Most of the fixes pertain to the Framework, Media Framework, System, and Kernel. The OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 3T received an earlier update which patched the WiFi KRACK vulnerability.

You can check out the official forum post announcement for the update to OxygenOS 5.0.1 down below.

Source: OnePlus Forums

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Ultimate Excel Bootcamp Bundle Helps You Master Spreadsheets and Work with Data

Microsoft Excel is one of the most powerful data analysis tools available. The problem is many of us are never trained to use the software to its full potential. As a result, you can waste frustrating hours on basic spreadsheets and end up missing all the best features.

With four in-depth courses and over 70 hours of instruction, the Ultimate Excel Bootcamp Bundle helps you crunch the numbers. It's an essential learning library for anyone who wants to work with data, and you can currently get lifetime access for only $49.

The instruction starts with a grand tour of Excel's basic features, before diving into specialist skills. For instance, the Business Analysis course helps you understand financial modeling theory and use forecasting tools like Moving Averages and Regression.

You can also learn how to use PivotTables to organize large data sets, while the Advanced Excel course looks at complex functions, advanced graphs, and powerful macros. Around 80 percent of jobs require you to work with spreadsheets, so these skills are valuable in any career.

The courses are worth $1,380 in total, but you can grab them now for only $49 and get lifetime access.

from xda-developers

Google Adds Brotli Compression to Deliver Faster OTA Android Updates

The size of an OTA update isn't something that most people really think about, since updates generally automatically download in the background over WiFi, but it's actually a big deal on the server back end. Saving even a few megabytes of data can make a huge difference since the gains are multiplied by potentially hundreds of thousands of users. To that end, Google has been working to bring its Brotli compression algorithm to Android for faster OTA updates.

What is the Brotli Compression Algorithm?

Brotli is a compression algorithm developed by a few Google employees that significantly improves the compression ratio over other algorithms such as GZIP while also demonstrating an impressive decompression speed. The downside is that compressing files with the Brotli algorithm is rather slow, so it's generally avoided when compressing dynamic content.

Brotli Compression Algorithm Android OTA Updates Brotli Compression Algorithm Android OTA Updates Brotli Compression Algorithm Android OTA Updates

Compression Benchmarks. Source: Jeroen Ooms

On the other hand, any static content such as web pages are suitable to be compressed via the Brotli algorithm. This includes application files downloaded from the Google Play Store. Since there are well over 2 billion Android devices out there, shaving off even small amounts of data when serving a patch file from the Play Store can result in massive gains for Google. The Brotli algorithm, when used for Play Store app downloads, saves users 1.5 petabytes (1.5 million gigabytes) of data each day.

Brotli Compression Algorithm Play Store

Brotli Compression Algorithm versus GZIP for Play Store Downloads. Credits: Google Student Blog

How will Brotli Improve OTA Updates?

Now, OTA updates aren't served to users as frequently as a Play Store app update, but they do tend to be much larger in comparison. For example, a full OTA package before compression can be 2GBs in size. Just how much data can be saved from an OTA package?

A LineageOS developer for the Motorola Moto G4 reports that they were able to save 50 Megabytes on an unofficial build. Considering the fact that the average Moto G4 LineageOS build is about 350 Megabytes, that's a pretty dramatic improvement. If even 10 MBs of data is saved on each OTA, then the overall reduction in bandwidth can be significant since Google needs to serve the update package to hundreds of thousands of users.

Furthermore, since Brotli also brings improved decompression speeds, that also means that OTA updates can be applied more quickly. OTA updates are sent to each device as an archive, so before the patches can be made via bsdiff, the archive needs to be decompressed. Since Brotli decompression is rather quick that means decompressing the archive will also be quick, resulting in faster patching of system files.

However, users on devices with A/B partition schemes such as the Google Pixel/Pixel 2, Essential Phone, Razer Phone, Moto Z2 Force, and Xiaomi Mi A1 probably won't notice this particular improvement since the updates are seamlessly applied on the inactive partition in the background. Still, even for these devices, the smaller OTA update package due to Brotli compression will result in reduced bandwidth for the user.

Thanks to XDA Retired Forum Moderator/Recognized Developer cybojenix for the tip!

from xda-developers

TWRP now supports the Xiaomi Redmi 5 & 5 Plus and Razer Phone

Team Win Recovery Project (TWRP for short) is the custom recovery software of choice for Android users. Besides providing the ability to backup/restore, flash images, or wipe partitions, the recovery also has a built-in file manager, ADB integration, and more. Getting a working TWRP build on a device is often the first step towards fostering a custom development scene, since it's risky to mess with your device without having a backup. And now, the custom recovery is finally available on the newly released Razer Phone, Xiaomi Redmi 5, and Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus.

TWRP for the Razer Phone

We've been following the development of the Razer Phone since its initial release. The Razer Phone is Razer's first consumer smartphone and the first smartphone sold in western markets with a 120Hz variable refresh rate display. Though Razer's products are typically marketed towards gamers, the Razer Phone's specifications are also appealing to Android enthusiasts with its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC paired with 8GBs of RAM, 64GBs of internal storage (with microSD support), and a 4,000 mAh battery.

The device's kernel source code was released a little over 10 days ago which has allowed developers to build TWRP, but without official factory images, lack of a dedicated recovery partition, and unfamiliarity with building TWRP for A/B partition devices, few dared to mess with their device in case it wouldn't boot anymore.

However, that didn't stop dedicated members on our community from trying to figure this out. XDA Senior Member twelfth even went as far as buying a Razer Phone to send to the lead developer of TWRP, XDA Senior Recognized Developer Dees_Troy. Thanks to this, TWRP was finally made for the Razer Phone and it is now available at the following link, along with detailed instructions on how to install it.

Download TWRP for the Razer Phone

TWRP for the Xiaomi Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus

The Xiaomi Redmi 5 and Redmi 5 Plus are a pair of budget smartphones that were unveiled earlier this month. The Redmi 5 has a 5.7″ LCD display with a 1440×720 (18:9 aspect ratio) resolution and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC with 2GB RAM/16GB storage or 3GB RAM/32GB storage, and a 3,300 mAh battery. Meanwhile the Redmi 5 Plus has a 5.99″ 2160×1080 display with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 SoC with 3GB RAM/32GBs storage or 4GB RAM/64GBs storage and a 4,000 mAh battery.

Both smartphones are pretty low end, but it's their price that makes them enticing to buy. The Xiaomi Redmi 5 retails for around $120/$135 depending on the variant, while the Redmi 5 Plus costs around $150/$196. At those prices, you might have a decent experience provided you have the right software. These smartphones run MIUI 9 based on Android Nougat, but thanks to TWRP and hopefully a fledgling community, other options may be available in the future.

We don't yet have a dedicated forum set up for the two phones, but we did notice that official support was recently merged in the TWRP gerrit, so that's how we know that the custom recovery is available for these two devices. You can grab them at the official website from the links below.

Download TWRP for the Xiaomi Redmi 5

Download TWRP for the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus

from xda-developers

OxygenOS Open Oreo Beta Now Available for the OnePlus 5T

An open Oreo beta for OxygenOS was released Friday for the OnePlus 5T, bringing picture-in-picture (PiP) functionality, Smart Text Selection, system-wide autofill, and the December Android security patch to OnePlus's flagship smartphone. Though the open beta has been available for a while now for the OnePlus 5, those who got its newer, 18:9 display-touting sibling had to wait, since the two devices run different firmware despite having the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset.

If you want to join in on the Oreo fun, there are some caveats to note. For one, the beta might not be as stable as the standard over-the-air updates, and upgrading to a non-beta update won't return you to the stable channel — you have to completely wipe your system and data (including pictures, videos, and apps) and flash a full OxygenOS stable ROM in order to revert from the beta. And if you're coming from a custom ROM, OnePlus recommends you contact customer support before flashing the OxygenOS beta.

If none of that scares you, you can download the full ROM from the corresponding OnePlus forum post and flash it via the OnePlus 5T's system recovery menu. If you have TWRP recovery installed, you might want to consider flashing the recommended stock recovery, which is also available for download from the forum post.

Source: OnePlus

from xda-developers

Friday, December 29, 2017

Xiaomi’s Yeelight Speaker Uses Alexa and Looks Like an Amazon Echo Dot

Smart speakers with voice assistants are becoming increasingly popular. Amazon leads the market with its Alexa-powered Echo lineup of speakers, and Google's close behind with the Google Assistant-powered Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Max. Xiaomi, on the other hand, doesn't sell a smart speaker internationally, but that won't be the case for much longer.

In July, Xiaomi took the wraps off the Mi AI smart speaker. Now, its subsidiary Yeelight has launched a spiritual successor, the Yeelight Voice Assistant, that it looks a little like the Amazon Echo Dot — complete with volume buttons on the top and a blue LED ring.

Xiaomi's calling the Yeelight Voice Assistant a "Dual AI" speaker: The Chinese model features Xiaomi's AI voice assistant, and the global model has Alexa. The speaker packs six microphones, a single 2-watt loudspeaker, and responds to voice commands given within a five-meter radius. It's powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU with 256MB of RAM, and sports 256MB of internal memory, dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity, and a Bluetooth Low Energy-enabled radio.

The Yeelight Voice Assistant can control of home automation products like smart LED lamps, table lamps, bedside lamps, and ceiling lights, as you might expect. It currently only supports Xiaomi devices, but expanded compatibility's said to be coming in an update.

The Yeelight Voice Assistant costs CNY 199 (about $30), which just about matches the price of Amazon's Echo Dot. Units are expected to begin shipping January 31 in China, but there's no word about the international release yet.

Source: MIUI Forums

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All 50 U.S. States Join FirstNet, a Nationwide Cell Network for First Responders

In the United States, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, and other first responders are at a bit of a disadvantage when it comes to mobile communications. Congestion on commercial networks can impede their ability to communicate with team members, and local jurisdictions use technologies that aren't always interoperable. Those were the motivations behind FirstNet, a nationwide mobile broadband network reserved for emergency services. It's making progress: As of this week, all 50 states have opted into the program.

Congress passed the legislation that established FirstNet in 2012, and AT&T, which won the contract to build it, got to work, drawing funding from $7 billion in proceeds from a government airwave auction (funded by a 2015 FCC auction). The legislation didn't force states to join FirstNet, but the deadline for enrollment ended this month, and all 50 states — including Washington D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico — decided to opt in.

Here's how FirstNet works, courtesy Axios:

  • "Fast lane": First responders get their own "fast lane" on the network to communicate during emergencies or large events. The core network will be built by Spring 2018, with the full network being complete over 3 to 5 years.

  • Boon for AT&T: The company gets access to a sizable swatch of airwaves, which are extremely valuable because they can travel decent distances and through obstructions like trees and buildings.

  • Sharing bandwidth: When the airwaves are not in use by public safety agencies, AT&T can use these airwaves to supplement their own commercial wireless coverage — a significant incentive to agree to the government requirements for building the network.

  • The catch: If first responders need to use the network, commercial applications will be slowed down or bumped off to give first responders priority access. This will also be a boon for cell-site tower companies that will be needed to build the nationwide network in both cities and rural areas.

  • App Store: FirstNet will have an app store with approved mobile apps that are optimized for public safety use.

  • Security: The network will provide full encryption of public safety data, and states will have access to a dedicated Security Operations Center.

No matter how you slice it, FirstNet's progress is good news for emergency service workers. Here's hoping it rolls out as planned.

Source: Axios

from xda-developers

Huawei PSmart Reportedly Packs Kirin 659 and Dual Cameras

Huawei's Enjoy 7S went on sale in China last week, but it might be bound for international shores. Evan Blass, who has a reliable track record when it comes to smartphone rumors, said on Twitter that the handset will launch internationally under the name Huawei PSmart.

It'll join the other devices in Huawei's growing P series, which tend to be accompanied by low-end variants. The Huawei PSmart, though, will reportedly launch on its own, and in three colors: Black, rose gold, and blue.

The phone, which strongly resembles the Honor 7X and the Huawei Mate 10 Lite, is a good mid-range package. For 249 euro (about $299) — the MSRP leaked by online German retailer Otto — you get some pretty nice specs, including a HiSilicon Kirin 659 octa-core system-on-chip, 3GB RAM, 32GB storage, a MicroSD card slot, a 5.65-inch Full HD 18:9 screen, a fingerprint sensor, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The Huawei PSmart's dual camera setup consists of a 13MP camera and a 2MP camera, and the front-facing camera's an 8MP camera. There's a 3000mAh battery inside, and the phone will reportedly ship with Android Oreo.

huawei psmart huawei psmart huawei psmart


The PSmart's release date is still a mystery, but we're expecting to see it launch in early 2018 in Europe — likely around late January.

Source: Otto Via: WinFuture

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Samsung and LG Confirm That They Haven’t Slowed Down Phones

Recently, Apple admitted to slowing down older iPhones' processor speeds as the batteries aged, ostensibly to prevent unexpected shutdowns. The fallout wasn't pretty, and Apple's throttling practices raised concerns that Android manufacturers were guilty of doing the same thing.

On Thursday, HTC and Motorola said that they haven't slowed down old phones on account of aging batteries. And on Friday, Samsung and LG confirmed to Phone Arena via e-mailed statements they haven't throttled devices, either:

"Never have, never will! We care what our customers think."


"Product quality has been and will always be Samsung Mobile's top priority. We ensure extended battery life of Samsung mobile devices through multi-layer safety measures, which include software algorithms that govern the battery charging current and charging duration. We do not reduce CPU performance through software updates over the lifecycles of the phone."


In related news, Apple published a statement on its website apologized for not informing owners of older iPhones that their devices were being intentionally slowed down. The company says that the aim wasn't planned obsolescence, but instead making the iPhones "last as long as possible".

To make amends, Apple reduced the price of iPhone battery replacements by $50 for a limited time, from $79 to $29. In addition, it promised an "early 2018" software update that'll provide more information about a given iPhone's battery health.

Source 1: Phone ArenaSource 2: AppleSource 3: Apple

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Alcatel 5 Passes Through the FCC, Appears to Have an Aluminum Body

Alcatel (formerly Alcatel OneTouch), which TCL fully acquired in 2015, is perhaps best known for its affordable Idol smartphone series, and all signs point to a big refresh in 2018. One of the upcoming handsets in the lineup — the Alcatel 5 — recently underwent FCC certification, and documents made public this week give a glimpse at its design and features.

The Alcatel 5 looks to have a brushed aluminum back cover, and could be Alcatel's 2018 flagship. (That's compared to the Alcatel 1X, which is said to have a plastic body.) The FCC's photos don't give away much, but do seem to match previously leaked renders of the Alcatel 5.

What we can glean from the pictures, though, is that Alcatel 5 will have a single rear camera and a USB Type-C port, won't have a 3.5mm headphone port, and looks to have a 3,000mAh capacity battery.

It was a little over a month ago we first heard rumors of the Alcatel 5. More recently, press renders for six of the Alcatel's upcoming smartphones — including the Alcatel 1X, Alcatel 3, Alcatel 3C, Alcatel 3V,  and Alcatel 3X — leaked in earnest. Presumably, they'll launch at different price points.

We'll likely learn more at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas, where Alcatel's expected to announce the new Idol series.

Via: TekGenius

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More than 250 Android Games Use Your Mic to Track What You’re Watching

For years, people have accused companies of using their smartphones'  microphones to record conversations. We talked about the unlikelihood of corporate eavesdropping back in June, but paranoid delusions aside, some bad actors are actually listening in. And somewhat unsurprisingly, they're middlemen for marketers.

Alphonso, a startup that sells media-viewing data, supplies a plugin that listens for audio signals in shows and movies. Roughly 250 mobile games and social applications in the Google Play Store use it to deliver targeted ads, according to The New York Times, a few of which include innocuous-sounding titles like "Pool 3D", "Beer Pong: Trickshot", "Real Bowling Strike 10 Pin", and "Honey Quest".

Even scarier, the software's accurate enough to detect audio when your phone's in a pocket or bookbag. Alphonso's CEO, Ashish Chordia, told The New York Times that it worked with movie studios to analyze movie-viewing habits and with Shazam to collect music-listening data.

The company insists that it doesn't record human speech, and that it discloses its software's tracking capabilities in app descriptions and terms of service (ToS) agreements. It also says that users have to grant permission before Alphonso's service can gain access to their devices' microphones and locations.

But a number of Alphonso-enabled applications are geared toward children, according to the Times report, and many of their disclosures aren't fully transparent.

Alphonso's plugin far from the first of its kind. Last year, the Federal Trade Commission targeted developers who'd used Silverfish, an audio-recording service akin to Alphonso's solution, in their applications.

With $70 billion of annual digital marketing money at stake, it doesn't seem likely that Alphonso, Silverfish, and other like services will head the way of the dodo anytime soon. But here's hoping that app developers are a little more forthcoming in the future about which ad-tracking services they're using.

Source: The New York Times

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Grammarly Keeps Your Correspondence Typo-free and Suggests Improvements

Not all of us were born with Mark Twain's gift for words. And, it's unreasonable for others to expect you to match the great man on style points, but spelling mistakes and poor grammar can make a bad first impression when you're applying for a job.

You could fix this problem by hiring your own writing coach, or you could just install Grammarly. This intelligent app hunts down your writing mistakes and helps you fix them with a couple of clicks. You can currently get a one-year Premium subscription, complete with the full range of checks, for just $69.98 — that's 49% off the regular price.

Grammarly leaves other spell-checkers in the dust, thanks to an intelligent and innovative approach. The app follows the meaning of your words in order to make smart corrections. Along with spelling and grammar, Grammarly can spot punctuation errors and suggest areas for improvement. Students can also breathe easy — you can compare your work to over 8 billion web pages to spot plagiarism.

Whether you need to compose a great report or nail your submission letter, this app is your friend. One year of premium service is normally $139.95, but you can get started now for just $69.98.

from xda-developers

LastPass Authenticator Update Fixes a Serious Security Vulnerability

LastPass is one of the most popular password managers on Android, and for good reason: It's incredibly secure. But the same couldn't be said of LastPass Authenticator, its companion application, which made headlines when a security researcher discovered a serious vulnerability in its code. Luckily, it was patched this week.

LastPass Authenticator offers 2FA on LastPass accounts and other supported apps. It's one of the few multi-factor authentication apps that gives users the option of using a fingerprint and/or PIN instead of a passcode, but the system had a serious flaw: Almost any app could access the app's TOTP (multi-factor) codes.

It wasn't too challenging, either. As detailed in a Medium post by a programmer in early December, an attacker could use a third-party app to open LastPass Authenticator's settings activity and the settings menu, which exposed the 2FA codes.

In a blog post, LastPass announced an update for the Authenticator app that fixes the issue. The company says that now, users must provide their fingerprint or PIN code to view the one-time code, and that the one-time codes are useless without an associated username and password.

The company advises all users to update Authenticator to the latest version, and admits that "proper steps were not taken to escalate and resolve it in a timely manner" — the company was informed of vulnerability in June, it turns out. It adds that it's "identified and resolved the procedural issue" to ensure that future bug reports are correctly handled and escalated.

LastPass recommends users not to reuse their LastPass master password, and to use strong passwords with two-factor authentication. Finally, the company states that it will "constantly evolve" its bug bounty program to make its product better.

Source: LastPass

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ASUS ZenFone 4 is getting Android Oreo via OTA

In early December, we reported that ASUS was planning to bring Android Oreo to its newest mid-range smartphone, the ZenFone 4, before the end of the month. On Friday, the company made good on its promise and announced that it's issued a software update to the ZenFone 4 (ZE554KL).

The Android Oreo update (which the carries build number 15.0405.1711.76) is based on ZenUI 4.0, the latest version of ASUS's custom skin. After updating, ZenFone 4 users can look forward to all the standard Android Oreo features and optimizations, including picture-in-picture mode (PiP), Notification Dots, a built-in password manager, improved Doze mode, faster boot times, and more.

Along with all the Oreo goodies, the update also packs a new version of the default application launcher. There's a swipe-up gesture that pulls up installed applications, new customizable application icons, and a streamlined Settings menu.

For the uninitiated, the ZenFone 4 is a mid-range offering from Asus that packs a 5.5-inch Full HD IPS display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 system-on-a-chip (SoC), 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and a 3,300mAh battery. It originally launched in European markets alongside the ZenFone 4 Pro and Max back in September, and subsequently hit U.S. retailers on October 31.

The update has begun rolling out over-the-air (OTA), and if you're carrying a ZenFone 4, you'll see it in the coming days. Alternatively, you can check for the update manually by heading to Settings > About > System Update. As is always the case with staged software rollouts, though, it might take some time for the update to reach your phone.

Source: ASUS ZenTalk Forums

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ZTE’s Blade V9 Marketing Materials Leak, Show 18:9 Display

ZTE first made waves in the smartphone market the Axon 7, an affordable premium phone that went head-to-head with the venerable OnePlus 3. Now, the China-based smartphone maker is gearing up to release a new budget phone, the Blade V9, and its Spanish-language website spilled the beans a little early.

The Blade V9 is a budget phone like its predecessors, but with a few features you might associate with high-end devices. It has a 5.7-inch Full HD display with a 18:9 aspect ratio, 2GB/3GB/4GB RAM (depending on the model),  16GB/32GB/64GB of internal storage, and a premium all-glass front and back.

ZTE's upcoming smartphone also has a LED-equipped dual camera setup consisting of a 16MP, f/1.8 autofocus sensor and a 5MP fixed-focus sensor. The Blade V9's front-facing camera is 13MP, and there's a fingerprint sensor on the back, plus a hybrid dual SIM slot, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a 3200mAh battery.

But the Blade V9 won't be the most powerful smartphone on the block. It's rocking a Qualcomm's Snapdragon 450, a low-end, 1.8GHz octa-core chip that's commonly found in budget phones. It won't tear through applications and tasks like, say, the Google Pixel 2 XL, but assuming the price is right, the Blade V9 could be a new budget device heavyweight.

According to the leaked marketing materials, the Blade V9 will launch in two color variants — black and gold — and it'll ship with Android Oreo. We expect to see it officially announced at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Source: Stuff

from xda-developers

Amazon Blocks YouTube on the Amazon Fire TV Before Google’s Deadline

In recent months, Google and Amazon have had what can only be described as a petty fight. Amazon prevented Google's Chromecast from playing Amazon Prime Video and delisted Chromecast devices from its store. Google, for its part, blocked Amazon's Echo Show speaker from accessing YouTube, and announced it would no longer support the YouTube application on Fire TV devices after January 1st, 2018. If all that wasn't bad enough, Amazon this week disabled the Fire TV app before Google's deadline.

Fire TV users who try to open the YouTube application are encouraged via a pop-up message to install web browsers like Amazon's Silk or Firefox. It's unclear if Google will attempt to block YouTube on Fire TV-optimized web browsers, but there's precedent — Amazon's workaround on the Echo Show, which used a browser to pull up YouTube videos, was disabled by the search giant earlier this month.

Things might not be as bad as they seem, though. Chromecast listings recently reappeared on Amazon's store, and a Google spokesperson confirmed to Variety that the two companies are in talks:

"We are in productive discussions with Amazon to reach an agreement for the benefit of our mutual customers. We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon."

That's good news. Many people opened up an Alexa-enabled device this Christmas, if the uptick in downloads of the Alexa app on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store are any indication. Fire TV users, for now, can use the aforementioned web browser workaround to view YouTube, but here's hoping that a more elegant solution's in the works.

Source: FastCompany

from xda-developers

Alphabet’s Tacotron 2 Text-to-Speech Engine Sounds Nearly Indistinguishable From a Human

Alphabet's subsidiary, DeepMind, developed WaveNet, a neural network that powers the Google Assistant's speech synthesis, in October. It's capable of better and more realistic audio samples than the search giant's previous text-to-speech system, and what's more, it generates raw audio — not spliced-together sounds from voice actors. Now, researchers at Alphabet have developed a new version, Tacotron 2, that uses multiple neural networks to produce speech almost indistinguishable from a human.

Tacotron 2 consists of two deep neural networks. As the research paper published this month describes it, the first translates text into a spectrogram, a visual representation of a spectrum of audio frequencies. The second — DeepMind's WaveNet — interpret the chart and generates corresponding audio elements. The result is an end-to-end engine that can emphasize words, correctly pronounce names, pick up on syntactical clues (i.e., stress words that are italicized or capitalized), and alter the way it enunciates based on punctuation.

It's unclear whether Tacotron 2 will make its way to user-facing services like the Google Assistant, but it'd be par for the course. Shortly after the publication of DeepMind's WaveNet research, Google rolled out machine learning-powered speech recognition in multiple languages on Assistant-powered smartphones, speakers, and tablets.

There's only one problem: Right now, the Tacotron 2 system is trained to mimic one female voice. To generate new voices and speech patterns, Google would need to train the system again.

Tacotron 2

from xda-developers

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Multiple Verizon Google Pixel 2 Owners are Reporting their Bootloaders can be Unlocked

The Google Pixel 2/2 XL is my personal favorite smartphone of 2017, despite the fact that the custom development scene is rather sparse. The stock Pixel experience is enough to make many die-hard Android modders decide to forego running a custom ROM or kernel. However, there's still a sizable group of users on our forums who prefer to unlock their bootloader, install Magisk, and flash various modifications. Those users who still go that route tend to avoid buying their phone from carriers because carrier phones tend to be locked down. This is true of the Google Pixel 2 sold on Verizon Wireless, where the bootloader cannot be unlocked, however multiple users on our forums are reporting tonight that they have successfully unlocked the bootloader of the Verizon Google Pixel 2.

An XDA member by the name of D3RP_ posted a thread on our Pixel 2 forum seeing if it would be possible to unlock the bootloader of the device. Last year's Verizon Google Pixel and Pixel XL were unlockable thanks to an exploit, but no such exploit has been discovered for the latest generation Pixel 2 smartphone series. Yet, it appears that an exploit isn't necessary at all. Simply sending a simple fastboot command on the Verizon Google Pixel 2 (sorry Pixel 2 XL owners!) appears to bring up the menu to unlock the bootloader.

Here are the steps to try on your own Verizon Google Pixel 2:

  1. Download the latest ADB & Fastboot binaries for your computer.
  2. Go to Developer Options and Enable USB Debugging
  3. Open a command prompt or terminal, and enter: adb reboot bootloader
  4. This reboots you to your bootloader. Now type: fastboot flashing lock_critical
  5. Use your volume keys to select the "UNLOCK THE BOOTLOADER" option.
  6. Press the power button to confirm. THIS WILL WIPE ALL DATA ON YOUR INTERNAL STORAGE.
  7. Once done, you can now flash TWRP and Magisk!

Thus far, we have confirmation from XDA Members D3rp_, zinchalk, enzyne, abs0lute, Lightn1ng, Ips1014, Spaniard85, dodendemise, and mamarcac that this works. We have no idea why this works, but we presume that Verizon or Google may have accidentally forgotten to block this fastboot command from bringing up the bootloader unlock menu if OEM unlocking isn't checked. This definitely shouldn't be possible on the Verizon model, and we don't expect this to last long.

So if you own a Verizon Google Pixel 2 and want your bootloader unlocked, now's your chance! Try this out and let us know if it worked for you!

from xda-developers

Pixel 2 XL XDA Display Analysis: A Well-Calibrated Package with a Some Critical Mistakes

In the past few months, the Pixel 2 XL has been the topic of many controversies, with conflict existing even before the phone's release. After the dust settled, it's a commonly-held belief that the Pixel 2 XL's display is plagued with issues, including premature screen burn-in, angular color shift, "muted" colors, "black crush", and "black smear". While some of these issues can be chalked up to poor display production, others require a more thorough look. In our detailed analysis of the Pixel 2 XL's display performance, we will attempt to cover each in as much depth as we can.

Pixel 2 XL Home Screen, Natural Profile

The Pixel 2 XL is the big stepbrother in Google's 2017 flagship phone lineup, bearing a 5.99-inch POLED display manufactured by LG. The screen looks very sharp thanks to its resolution of 2880×1440 pixels, the pixels of which are situated in a PenTile Diamond Pixel array.

The PenTile Diamond Pixel array provides intrinsic subpixel anti-aliasing and increases panel longevity by using fewer blue subpixels, which deteriorate much more quickly than red and green subpixels. Consequently, the PenTile subpixel arrangement has one-third fewer total subpixels than the conventional RGB stripe subpixel pattern found on most LCDs, but the PenTile subpixel arrangement exploits the human visual system's color sensitivity to green and greater sensitivity to luminance compared to chrominance. It maintains a 1:1 green subpixel-to-pixel ratio, giving the PenTile display the same luma resolution as a conventional RGB stripe display but introducing potential color fringing, and at  the Pixel 2 XL's pixel density, no fringing is visible and the screen appears perfectly sharp to the eye in most scenerio. The notable exception is VR, but the Diamond Pixel shape does help mitigate the screen-door effect.

It is not Google's first time using this display technology in its phones; the Google Pixel, Google Pixel XL, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, and Galaxy Nexus all have OLED panels with a PenTile subpixel arrangement. Furthermore, all of the phones' OLED displays are capable of outputting color that is outside of the sRGB color gamut. Almost all content color is deliberately described with respect to the sRGB color gamut, so it is important for a display to be able render those colors correctly. The problem is that these phones originally did not color-manage content in their native display mode, resulting in colors with much more chrominance than the original content creator intended. Google took initiative in tackling this problem with the release of Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, along with Android Oreo, which introduces color management for devices that support wide color.

With the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Google states that "[o]ne of [their] design intents was to achieve a more natural and accurate rendition of colors". We will assess the Pixel 2 XL's display performance, and conclude if their efforts in color accuracy deserve merit.

Color Difference Metrics

We will be using the color difference measurement CIEDE2000 (shortened to ΔE), compensated for luminance, as a metric for chromatic accuracy. Other color difference metrics exist as well, such as the color difference Δu'v' on the CIE 1976 u'v' chromaticity diagram, but these metrics are inferior in perceptual uniformity, as the threshold for a just-noticeable-difference (JND) between color can wildly vary; for example, a color difference of 0.008 Δu'v' is not visually noticeable for blue, but the same measured color difference for yellow is very noticeable. CIEDE2000 is the industry-standard color difference metric proposed by the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) that best describes the perceptually-uniform differences between color. This metric normally considers luminance in its computation since luminance is a necessary component to completely describe color, which is helpful when calibrating a display to a certain brightness. But smartphone displays constantly change brightness, and the overall error can be volatile when measuring different display brightness levels. For this reason, luminance error will be compensated for in our ΔE values so only chromaticity is being measured. Display color measurements will be taken with a display brightness of 200 cd/m2 to ensure consistency, and presented luminance errors will be according to the standard sRGB gamma power function of 2.2 for reference.

In general, when the color difference ΔE is below 3.0, the difference in color can only be noticeable in diagnostic conditions, such as when the measured color and target color appear right next to each other on the display being measured. Otherwise, the color is not visually noticeable and appears perfectly accurate. However, a ΔE of 1.0 or less is said to be completely indistinguishable from perfect, and will appear identical to the target color even when adjacent to it.


100% APL Brightness Device Reference Chart

Our Pixel 2 XL unit reaches a maximum brightness of 474 cd/m2 at 100% APL or average picture level (the average active luminance percentage of each subpixel, relative to the set display brightness), which is a respectable increase from the Pixel XL's 412 cd/m2 and the Pixel 2's 432 cd/m2. Note that this measurement was taken after the Android 8.0 update in November 2017, which Google says decreases the maximum brightness of the Pixel 2 XL by 50 nits (cd/m2). This decrease is likely only noticeable at lower APLs at which the Pixel 2 XL should be plenty bright. In any case, it's competitive with the Note 8's measured brightness of 480 cd/m2 at 100% APL on automatic brightness with brightness overdrive enabled.

The average APL for media consumption on the Pixel 2 XL hovers around 40%, though, so brightness measurements around that APL range are much more practical. At 50% APL, our Pixel 2 XL measures 530 cd/m2, which is adequately bright for outdoor use, but trumped by the likes of the Note 8, which we measured 643 cd/m2 at 50% APL. Unlike the Note 8, the Pixel 2 XL does not offer a brightness overdrive feature when exposed to intense light, and maintains the same maximum brightness with Adaptive Brightness on or off.

The display drops down to 4.1 cd/m2 on the lowest brightness with Adaptive Brightness off. With Adaptive Brightness enabled, the display drops to 1.6 cd/m2, about as low as most other smartphone displays.

Grayscale Accuracy and Intensity

An accurate grayscale and white point are fundamental to producing accurate color. A shift in grayscale will propagate error throughout a display's entire color gamut (with the exception of the 100% primaries—red, blue, and green), so it is absolutely crucial to analyze a display's grayscale to evaluate primary sources of error when measuring for color accuracy. Google states that it calibrated  Pixel 2 XL displays to a D67 white point, which isn't a great start to any pursuit of accurate color.

Pixel 2 XL Correlated Color Temperature Chart, Natural Profile

The average correlated color temperature is indeed at about Google's claimed 6700K. The white point at the higher intensities become even colder, peaking at 7239K at 95% white, which is in the range of most content backgrounds. From this breakdown, we can see that the display is blue-shifted at nearly all intensities, which will affect color mixtures — especially the secondary colors. Note, too, that the grayscale for the Natural and Boosted color profiles are exactly the same.

Pixel 2 XL Luminance Chart

The Pixel 2 XL's display gamma is somewhat concerning. The standard target gamma for sRGB/Rec.709 is a consistent power curve of 2.2. However, the Pixel 2 XL's display gamma seems to be following a power curve of 2.4, which was popularly used in HDTVs before the BT.1886 recommendation. As a result, color mixtures may appear darker on phone's display, and the luminance range among the blacks will increase. This is helpful because the human eye is much more sensitive to changes in darker colors than changes in brighter colors, though it is only really noticeable if the viewer is in a dark environment. This is not wrong to target—many HDTVs still target this power curve—but Google failed to see the consequences of applying this darkening power curve to a smartphone. The higher gamma power is meant for cinema and larger TVs in dark environments. Smartphones are smaller devices that are used in a variety of lighting conditions, so the resulting lower-intensity colors are not ideal in some of the conditions in which the average person would use their smartphone, like outside during a sunny day. Such scenarios are better served by a lower gamma power function, like 2.0, that provide better visibility to low-intensity colors.

Additionally, the Pixel 2 XL's higher power curve further clips the blacks near 0% intensity. "Crushed blacks" are an inherent hardware limitation of current-generation OLED displays, as they have an absolute minimum non-black level usually isn't dim enough to provide full 8-bit depth intensity except for at very high brightnesses. For the display calibrators insistent on using a display gamma of 2.4, the BT.1886 recommendation partially remedies the black clipping issue by suggesting an initial lower power curve for the lower intensities that ramps up to the power curve of 2.4. The lower gamma near the black level will help brighten up those few initial luminance steps, and this gamma specification is much more suitable for OEMs that wish to apply that cinematic feel to their smartphone displays while minimizing crushed blacks.

Pixel 2 XL Lower Luminance Range, Natural Profile

In the Pixel 2 XL's case, it seems that Google is using an abnormally high initial gamma power function — even higher than 2.4 — for the lower luminance ranges. This will clip blacks even further than normal for OLED displays and will negatively impact viewings of darker films and videos. Looking at a full-step measurement for the lower 20% luminance range, our Pixel 2 XL's intensity scale looks jagged and clips intermediary steps, as seen by the straight horizontal lines and sudden, steep changes for the first 6% of the luminance range. Anything below 3% will be crushed. Note that with casual media consumption, lighter shades will be crushed black, as the threshold for clipping to black increases with content APL. Furthermore, the exaggerated black crushing and jagged intensity scale appears to be the result of Google improperly transferring the Pixel 2 XL's intensity scale when calibrating the display to sRGB:

Pixel 2 XL Lower Luminance Range, Saturated Profile

When the Pixel 2 XL is set to its native display gamut, the intensity scale becomes much smoother, and the threshold for clipping to black decreases from 3% to 2.4%, putting the Pixel 2 XL in line with the Note 8 with regards to black clipping. Both the Pixel 2 XL and Note 8 would benefit greatly from having a higher initial gamma to brighten up the blacks and to minimize black clipping.

Pixel 2 XL Correlated Color Temperature Chart, Saturated Profile

What's even more surprising is that the Pixel 2 XL has one of the most accurate grayscales on any smartphone display in its native display gamut, surpassing even our Note 8.

Color Temperature Devices Reference Chart

Grayscale Devices Reference Chart

Despite the higher gamma and the intentional white point variation, the Pixel 2 XL's grayscale is still accurate to the sRGB/Rec.709 specification. The grayscale on the Natural and Boosted color profiles yield an average color temperature of 6740K and an average grayscale color difference ΔE = 2.01. On the Saturated color profile, which is the Pixel 2 XL's native display gamut, the Pixel 2 XL has an astounding, perceptually near-perfect average grayscale color difference ΔE = 1.22. One wonders how much better it might have been if Google provided an sRGB color profile with their native gamut grayscale accuracy, or better yet, a color temperature slider like Samsung and others have been doing. This is an overall improvement to the Pixel XL's sRGB grayscale accuracy, though the Pixel XL does have a superior gamma power function of 2.2. The Pixel 2 XL's grayscale on the Natural and Boosted color profiles is not as accurate as the Note 8's grayscale on the Basic screen mode, but the Pixel 2 XL's grayscale accuracy is just fine, and, without diagnostic reference, is visually accurate.

Saturation and Color Accuracy

Out of the box, the Pixel 2 XL defaults to Google's Boosted color profile, which targets the sRGB color gamut, expanded by 10% in all directions to slightly increase color vibrancy. Google claims to have defaulted to this profile since "[h]umans perceive colors as less vibrant on smaller screens, such as on a smartphone". While this may seem like a good idea, Google did not account for the human eye's non-uniform sensitivity to light: Reds appear slightly boosted,  greens and yellows get a bigger boost that turns their high-intensity mixtures to a sickly neon, and blues look like they get almost no boost at all.

Before analyzing the Pixel 2 XL's default profile, we will first take a look at the phone's Natural color profile, which targets the sRGB color gamut with a D67 white point.

Natural Color Profile


Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep Measurements Plot, Natural Profile

Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep CIEDE2000 Chart, Natural Profile

Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep Luminance Error Chart, Natural Profile

Saturation Devices Reference Chart

On the CIE 1976 u'v' chromaticity diagram, the Pixel 2 XL covers about 92.3% of the sRGB color gamut, falling short most noticeably at near-100% intensity red. However, it's important to note that the CIE 1976 u'v' chromaticity diagram is not perceptually uniform, and that the perceptual color difference in red is much less severe than the diagram suggests; the chromatic difference of 100% red is actually only a ΔE of 1.34, which is visually undetectable. The blue-shifting in the grayscale becomes apparent in the secondary colors, shifting both magenta and cyan towards blue, and skewing yellow ever-so-slightly toward green. Despite the secondary color hue shifts, the Pixel 2 XL properly saturates most of its colors, with an average saturation color difference ΔE = 1.78 and a maximum saturation color difference ΔE = 4.22 at 100% cyan.

Do not mistake saturation for luminance. The Pixel 2 XL's display hits all its saturation targets with the exception of cyan, which it overshoots, but its cinematic display gamma produces colors that may seem dimmer than usual, as the gamma is more suited to low-light viewing. However, as a result of the Pixel 2 XL's overall blue shift at nearly all luminance levels, the red gamma is consistently higher, meaning reds will necessarily be slightly dimmer relative to other color mixtures, as seen in the above luminance difference chart.


Pixel 2 XL X-Rite ColorChecker Measurements Plot, Natural Profile

Pixel 2 XL X-Rite ColorChecker CIEDE2000 Chart, Natural Profile

Pixel 2 XL X-Rite ColorChecker Luminance Error Chart, Natural Profile

X-Rite ColorChecker Devices Reference Chart

The X-Rite ColorChecker, formerly the GretagMacbeth ColorChecker, is a set of colors to test for color accuracy on displays. It differs from the saturation sweep by presenting color mixtures that often appear in photographs and nature, such as skin colors and foliage, and that are known to be difficult to accurately reproduce digitally. A look at a display's X-Rite ColorChecker color accuracy is helpful in predicting a display's color performance in photographs and films, while a display's saturation sweep accuracy is better suited to more solid, vibrant content, such as app icons, logos, colorful wallpapers, animations, and app interface elements such as the action bar. The Pixel 2 XL fares very well in the ColorChecker, with an average X-Rite ColorChecker color difference ΔE = 1.85 and a maximum non-grayscale X-Rite ColorChecker color difference ΔE = 2.41 at the cyan color coordinate (0.1473, 0.4120).

Boosted Color Profile

Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep Measurements Plot, Boosted Profile

Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep CIEDE2000 Chart, Boosted Profile

Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep Luminance Error Chart, Boosted Profile

Jumping into the Pixel 2 XL's default Boosted color profile, we can see that it nearly covers 110% of the sRGB color gamut on the CIE 1976 u'v' chromaticity diagram. The near-100% intensity reds still seem to be lacking relative to the boosted color profile. That being said, 100% red on the Boosted color profile does have a larger, more noticeable chromatic difference ΔE = 3.01 than it does on the Natural color profile (ΔE = 1.34), though the red's lighter appearance in the Boosted profile compensates for its too-dark appearance in the Natural profile. Measuring against the normal sRGB gamut, the Boosted color profile has an average saturation color difference ΔE = 2.71, which is higher than in the Natural color profile (as expected).

Pixel 2 XL X-Rite ColorChecker Measurements Plot, Boosted Profile

Pixel 2 XL X-Rite ColorChecker CIEDE2000 Chart, Boosted Profile

Pixel 2 XL X-Rite ColorChecker Luminance Error Chart, Boosted Profile

Overall, the Pixel 2 XL's Boosted color profile is a good way to slightly increase the display's vibrancy while retaining accuracy. The main issue is that the increase in saturation isn't uniform, with the yellows and greens exhibiting the most perceptible difference.

Saturated Color Profile

Google hasn't explicitly mentioned that the Saturated color profile is calibrated to the DCI-P3 color gamut, but it has stated that it puts the Pixel 2 XL in its native display gamut, and the Pixel 2 XL spec sheet mentions that it covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color space. Its native gamut must be DCI-P3 or one that's larger, so we will measure it against the DCI-P3 color gamut.

Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep Measurements Plot, Saturated Profile

Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep CIEDE2000 Chart, Saturated Profile

Pixel 2 XL Saturation Sweep Luminance Error Chart, Saturated Profile

We can see that the Pixel 2 XL's native display gamut fits the DCI-P3 color space with an average saturation color difference ΔE = 1.69, which is more accurate than its Natural color profile's average saturation color difference (ΔE = 1.78). This mode is finely calibrated, with only two color target values having a color difference ΔE above 3: The white point and 100% cyan. The rest of the measured colors have unnoticeable color differences, and the colors on the Saturated color profile aren't darkened, but lightened. Most colors will appear slightly lighter on the Pixel 2 XL's display, but the blues will not.

OLED Weaknesses

Pixel 2 XL (left), Pixel 2 (right)

One of the shortcomings of cavity-based OLED displays is their white angular dependence, which causes the display to shift color and brightness at different angles. On our Pixel 2 XL unit, the display lost little light when tilted at different angles, but experienced a severe case of angular color shifting toward blue when viewing the screen away from a perpendicular angle.

The color shifting on the Pixel 2 XL is much worse than that on the Pixel 2, which has an OLED display manufactured by Samsung. The two phones use different OLED design patterns to tackle angular color shift, with the Pixel 2 XL's LG panel LEDs gradually shifting into a different color as it is being viewed away from perpendicular and the Pixel 2's Samsung panel alternating between red and blue, increasing in severity as it's being viewed away from perpendicular until completely "rainbows out" near parallel.

Pixel 2 XL (left), Pixel 2 (right)

Another weakness of OLED displays is that the individual diodes take longer to turn on than they do to switch off (the blue subpixel the fastest to light up). This causes a ghosting, jelly, or "black smear"  effect when a low-luminance color is moved around a pure-black background. Our Pixel 2 XL unit exhibited normal levels of ghosting, comparable to the Note 8.

Note 8 (top), Pixel 2 XL (bottom)

Display Comparison

Pixel 2 XL (left), Note 8 (right)

When comparing photos of the Pixel 2 XL and Note 8's displays side by side, they appear to be very similar. However, the temperature differences of almost immediately become apparent. In the comparison above, the Pixel 2 XL's colder temperature is very prominent in the bluer sky and water, while the Note 8's warmer tone dials them back a bit and exaggerates the sun's heat, the highlights on the top-left, and the railings on the bottom. Neither gets the photo exactly correct — the Pixel 2 XL is too cold and the Note 8 is too warm. But the Note 8's less-punchy profile renders this photo more accurately.

Pixel 2 XL (left), Note 8 (right)

Moving onto this immaculate portrait selfie, the effect of display temperature on skin tones is noticeable. Colder temperatures will make skin tones appear pale, while warmer temperatures will make skin appear more rich in color. The human eye is very sensitive to skin tones, and once again, neither display gets this photo completely right, as the Pixel 2 XL makes skin appear too pale, and the Note 8 makes it too warm and saturated for the lower skin tone intensities. The Note 8, however, is once again the more accurate photo.

Here are some more side-by-sides:

The Pixel 2 XL overall renders photos very accurately, although being slightly colder due to Google's insistence on making the display feel "fresh". When sharing media with friends, most displays do tend to have colder white points, so you can feel secure in knowing that the grayscale will appear similar, and that others viewing it within the same color space, which are almost all computers and laptops, and iPhones, will see the same photo.


Although Google has made some questionable decisions in the calibration of the Pixel 2 XL's display, it is indeed well-calibrated and accurate in its Natural color profile; it should be even more accurate than most HDTVs, computer monitors, and many smartphone displays. Most color errors are unnoticeable in non-diagnostic conditions, with many being completely imperceptible, and the intentionally-colder tone is something that Google can hopefully address in a future update for those that do not want a colder display. However, some of Google's UI decisions, along with the darker gamma, makes it difficult to convince  users that the Pixel 2 XL is using the same color profile as the iPhones, such as the white gradient applied to the bottom of the devices' native launcher, or the opting for smaller app icons to fit five of them on a row—Apple's iPhone home screen appears much more colorful due to their larger icons and their shape (the rounded squares have a higher fill rate than circles), which also generally utilize less white space and more distinct colors than Android's and Google's app icons do.

The Pixel 2 XL's native gamut in the Saturated color profile is also accurately calibrated to the DCI-P3 color gamut, so we can expect the device to render wide color properly when more Android applications are color managed. Of course, when using the Saturated color profile to superficially make colors appear more vivid, then it shouldn't matter to the user. There is a substantial angular color shift towards blue, and more severe on our unit than on competitor's displays. However, many users have claimed and posted photos of their units that do not exhibit as much of an angular color shift, so it may ultimately come down to manufacturing quality control that perhaps Google and LG can tighten up in future-generation OLED displays; the upside to LG's panel is that it exhibits little angular luminance shift, and that it does not rainbow out at extreme angles like Samsung's do—once the display uniformly shifts colors, then the display appears perfectly uniform until parallel, where Samsung's display would be illegible moderately before parallel. Minimizing this color shift would be ideal and improvements could make it superior to Samsung's current color shifting solution of varying the hue and severity of color shift.

Our unit also exhibited minor display grain, noticeable only when very close to the display. This also varies unit-to-unit, so it may be remedied with tighter quality control. Our Pixel 2 XL unit displays also feel hollow, producing audible sounds that are louder than usual when tapping or casually touching the top glass. This is due to excessive air being trapped under the top glass, which can be caused by poor screen adhesion when laminating the OLED screen to the smartphone chassis. This air pocket serves as a vessel for sounds and vibrations, causing audio from the speakers to vibrate the screen with greater feedback than on a tightly-fitted screen. The Pixel 2 and most other current-generation smartphones do not have this issue, but most older devices do. This design flaw is most likely an oversight by Google's first time working with 3D Gorilla Glass and shaping OLED displays.

The display gamma is what is the most conflicting, rendering many tones darker than what most users are used to. As a mobile device, the display gamma should be lower, or dynamic, but the higher gamma of the Pixel 2 XL may make viewing media in the sunlight more of a challenge, even though the display does get adequately bright. Once again, the display gamma, along with its improper transfer from the display's native gamut to sRGB (resulting in black crush), can all be changed in software—it just depends on whether Google finds enough reason to do so. Whichever display issue is most bothersome is personal to the user, some of which can seem overwhelming for a phone this expensive, but the same reason to buy Google's phones—their software—is also the bulk of the issues here, so make sure to let them know!

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from xda-developers