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Android

Running Android on Top of a Linux Graphics Stack

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Android
Linux
Interviews

Traditional Linux graphics systems (like X11) mostly did not use planes. But modern graphics systems like Android and Wayland can take full advantage of it.

Android has the most mature implementation of plane support in HWComposer, and its graphics stack is a bit different from the usual Linux desktop graphics stack. On desktops, the typical compositor just uses the GPU for all composition, because this is the only thing that exists on the desktop.

Most embedded and mobile chips have specialized 2D composition hardware that Android is designed around. The way this is done is by dividing the things that are displayed into layers, and then intelligently feeding the layers to hardware that is optimized to handle layers. This frees up the GPU to work on the things you actually care about, while at the same time, it lets hardware that is more efficient do what it does best.

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Motorola Moto X4 Android One review: a Nexus by any other name

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Android
Reviews

That’s been a tough pill for many fans of the prior Nexus phones to swallow, as they frequently offered a lot of specs and performance for a lot less money than other smartphones. You could realistically get a great Nexus phone for under $500 without having to give up the traits that make them great: clean software, fast performance, and timely updates.

Enter Motorola’s new Moto X4 Android One smartphone. While not technically a Nexus phone, it shares many of the same qualities that made the Nexus line so loved. Clean build of Android? Check. Promise of fast updates and years of software support? Check. Reasonable cost? Check.

The $399 X4 won’t appeal to everyone. It’s not meant to compete with the Pixel or other premium phone in terms of features or performance, and its biggest limitation is that it’s only available on Google’s own Project Fi network. (Though it comes unlocked and works with other networks, the only way to buy this flavor of X4 is to be a Fi customer.) But if you’ve been holding on to that aging Nexus 5X hoping something would come along and pick up its mantle, the Moto X4 Android One version is it.

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Android: New Devices

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Android
  • ZTE launches crazy, foldable, dual-screened smartphone

    Budget Android company ZTE is launching what has to be its craziest-looking smartphone ever, the Axon M. The M looks like someone took a Nintendo DS, removed the controls, and stuck two big smartphone screens on each side.

    The Axon M is a whopping 12.1mm thick. A hinge runs along the long side of the phone, and it opens up, just like a Nintendo DS. On each side of the phone, you get a 5.2-inch, 1080p TFT LCD. Open the whole thing up, and when combined the screens sort of become a 6.75-inch, 8:9 aspect ratio, 1920x2160 display. I say "sort of" because of course there's a big seam down the middle.

  • Google's Pixel 2 Earns High Marks in Spite of Dull Design

    As Google's new Pixel 2 smartphones get ready to hit the shelves, reviews of the models have begun mushrooming online.

    While the new phones generally have received positive grades, many reviewers found the their design boring.

    "The Pixel 2 hardware is ho-hum," observed Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.

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  • Surprise! The Pixel 2 is hiding a custom Google SoC for image processing

Review: Google Pixel 2

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Android
Google
Reviews

If I had to pick the moment I most appreciated the Google Pixel 2, it would be when our airboat driver-slash-tour guide put a hot dog and a piece of raw chicken in his pocket, dove into the New Orleans swamp, and began playing with a giant gator named Who Dat. I’m no social media whiz, but I knew there was Instagram gold unfolding in front of me. So I pulled out my Pixel 2 XL, the larger of Google’s two new models, double-clicked on the power button to open the camera, and started snapping.

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Pixel 2 and 2 XL review—The best Android phone you can buy

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Android
Reviews

Welcome to year two of Google Hardware. In 2016, Google jumped into the Android hardware space with its first self-branded device, the Google Pixel. Google's software prowess shined on the Pixel 1, offering up exclusive features like the Google Assistant, the best Android camera thanks to advanced software processing, fast day-one OS updates and betas, and the smoothest, best-performing overall build of Android. The killer software package made it the best Android phone of the previous generation.

The Pixel still represented Google's first foray into smartphone hardware, though, and it didn't offer anything special in the hardware department. It was a bland-looking iPhone clone. It had the same specs and basic design as everything else. The Pixel even skipped water resistance, which had become an expected feature at that price point. Google said it wanted to make its own hardware, but it didn't actually build special hardware.

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