Categories
Deals Hardware Mobile

Motorola phones on sale for Labor Day

If you’re looking for an inexpensive Android phone for doing development work or testing, or just as a phone, Motorola, my go-to vendor for inexpensive Android devices is having a Labor Day sale!

Here are three of the phones that are currently on sale that I think would be good for someone who wants to get started with Android development. Yes, you can always use an emulator, but there’s no substitute for developing and testing on an actual device.

All of these devices are fully unlocked, which means they’ll work on any carrier. Motorola don’t include much junkware on their phones — it’s as close to stock Android as you’re going to get without buying a Pixel. All were released this year.

Motorola’s G line has always been a reliable way to get mid-level features at a starter phone price. If you want to get a device that performs at the level of the typical Android phone for users who live outside the G7 bubble (and let’s face it, that’s most of the world), or need to provide a workforce with a mobile computing device, you want this one.

  • Release date: January 14, 2021.
  • OS: Android 10
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 (11 nm). Here’s a list of phones that use this chipset.
  • GPU: Adreno 610. Here’s a list of phones that use this GPU.
  • Memory: 2 versions
    • 3 GB RAM, 32 GB “disk”
    • 4 GB RAM, 64 GB “disk”
  • Main camera:
    • 48 megapixel wide sensor,  f/1.7, (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 2 megapixel macro sensor, f/2.4
    • 2 megapixel depth sensor, f/2.4
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 or 60 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Selfie camera:
    • 8 megapixel sensor, f/2.0, 1.12µm
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Battery: Li-PO 5000 mAh

At the current discount price of $250, the Moto G Stylus is the phone on this list that provides the best bang for the buck. As its name implies, it has a stylus, and if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative to the Galaxy Note line (and a much better choice than the LG Stylo), give this one a look.

  • Release date: January 14, 2021.
  • OS: Android 10
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 678 (11 nm). Here’s a list of phones that use this chipset.
  • GPU: Adreno 612. Here’s a list of phones that use this GPU.
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM, 128 GB “disk”
  • Main camera:
    • 48 megapixel wide sensor,  26mm (wide), 1/2.0″, 0.8µm, PDAF
    • 8 megapixel ultrawide sensor, f/2.2, 118˚, 1/4.0, 1.12µm
    • 2 megapixel macro sensor, f/2.2
    • 2 megapixel depth sensor, f/2.4
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 or 60 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Selfie camera:
    • 16 megapixel sensor, f/2.0, (wide), 1/3.06″, 1.0µm
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Battery: Li-PO 4000 mAh

I’m including this phone in this list just to make this list of $500-and-lower phones complete. My personal recommendation is to pay $50 less and get the RedMagic 6R, which gives you Samsung Galaxy S21-level power.

At its normal price of $700, I’d say “no”, but at a $200 discount, I’d say “think about it”. You’re getting near-flagship level features at mid-level prices. This phone boasts a 144Hz screen refresh rate (good for gaming), a solid chipset, and cameras with great specs.

But still, I’d say that if you’re looking for maximum computing bang for the buck at this price point, you want the RedMagic 6R, which currently starts at $450.

  • Release date: September 2, 2021.
  • OS: Android 11
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G 5G (6 nm). Here’s a list of phones that use this chipset.
  • GPU: Adreno 642L. Here’s a list of phones that use this GPU.
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM, 256 GB “disk”
  • Main camera:
    • 108 megapixel wide sensor,  f/1.9, (wide), 1/1.52″, 0.7µm, PDAF
    • 8 megapixel ultrawide sensor, f/2.2, 119˚ (ultrawide), 1.12µm, AF
    • 2 megapixel depth sensor, f/2.4, (depth), 1.75µm
  • Video:
    • 4K at 30 fps
    • 1080p at 30, 60 or 120 fps
    • 720p at 960 fps
    • Gyro-EIS
  • Selfie camera:
    • 32 megapixel sensor, f/2.3, (wide), 0.7µm
    • Shoots 1080p video at 30 fps with gyro-EIS
  • Battery: Li-PO 5000 mAh
Categories
Hardware Humor Mobile

I keep one in my wallet

Categories
Mobile Reading Material

New book: “Androids: The Team That Built the Android Operating System”

Androids: The Team That Built the Android Operating System is a new book written by Chet Haase, a long-time lead on the Android UI toolkit team, and more recently, an Android developer advocate.

This article is part of the Android August series, in which I’m writing an Android development-related article every day during the month of August 2021.

Haase has been on the Android team since 2010, which is back when it was still considered to be the “wild card” in the race for mobile OS dominance. This gives him serious “in the room where it happened” cred, as well as access to people, photos, documentation, and other behind-the-scenes information about the creation of a operating system that now drives over 3 billion active devices today.

The original demo, written by Brian Swetland and Chris White and later enhanced by Fadden, showing a home screen and several apps (most of which were not implemented). It’s a far cry from a modern Android home screen.
The is the original demo of Android on a mid-2000s phone, showing a home screen and a selection of apps, most of which weren’t implemented at the time. Hey, it was a demo for a pitch! (Photo by Chet Haase)

Android wasn’t originally meant to be a phone OS. The original plan was for it to be an advanced OS for digital cameras, which were more common back in the early 2000s, and it’s the use case they presented to investors in early 2004.

It was later decided that the camera market wasn’t big enough, and that Android should aim for the same space occupied by the big mobile operating systems at the time: Symbian (the most popular mobile OS until 2010) and Windows Mobile. They courted Samsung and HTC, but in July 2005, Google made the prescient decision to acquire Android for $50 million. According to Wikipedia, this move was described in 2010 as Google’s “best deal ever” by their then VP of corporate development, David Lawee, to whom I reported during the dot-com era at OpenCola.

A Look Back at the First Android Phone, 10 Years Later | Digital Trends
The first commercially-available Android device: The HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G1, released September 2008. (Creative Commons photo by Michael Oryl.)

Androids is an insider’s history of the Android operating system, but Haase also promises that it won’t be above a non-techie’s head:

Instead, it’s a history: It describes the events, stories, experiences, thinking, and decisions made by the Android team, most notably in the early days, well before the present-day concept of a smartphone existed.

Want to find more about the book? Check out these articles:

Want to get the book? There are a couple of ways to do so:

The book will also be available in paperback form.

The Connectory
Women Who Code: WWCode is a non profit that helps mid-career engineers get  promoted. | Y Combinator

Here’s another reason to buy the book: Haase is donating profits from the book to Black Girls Code and Women Who Code.

Categories
Mobile Programming

Learn how to build an Android app using MVVM

Last week, I pointed you to Tutorials.EU’s video tutorial, Everything You Need To Know About Retrofit in Android | Get Data from an API, which showed you how to build an app that accesses the Rick and Morty API using the Retrofit HTTP client for Android.

This article is part of the Android August series, in which I’m writing an Android development-related article every day during the month of August 2021.

This week, they expand on that tutorial by showing you how to clean up the project’s architecture by refactoring it so that it uses the MVVM (Model-View-ViewModel) architecture:

This video is the second in a series. In next week’s video, you’ll change the implementation so that it uses coroutines to perform tasks in the background.

Categories
Mobile Programming

Android’s Camera2 API

This article is part of the Android August series, in which I’m writing an Android development-related article every day during the month of August 2021.

If you want to write an Android app that interacts with the camera beyond merely taking a picture or shooting some video, you’ll want to make use of the Camera2 API, which became available at API level 21 (a.k.a. Android 5.0, a.k.a. Lollipop), which goes all the way back to late 2014.

There are a number of recently published articles and documents that you can consult if you’d like to explore Camera2:

Categories
Mobile Programming

It’s time to get a head start with Jetpack Compose

This article is part of the Android August series, in which I’m writing an Android development-related article every day during the month of August 2021.

As I mentioned in the previous article in this series, the biggest development in the latest version of Android Studio (at least as far as I’m concerned) is that Jetpack Compose is now included, and therefore official.

Jetpack Compose is Android’s declarative UI, which puts it in the same general category as iOS’ SwiftUI or Facebook’s React.

Jetpack Compose is called declarative as opposed to imperative, which is often summarized as building UIs in a “this is what it should be like” way versus a “this is how it should be created”. It’s the difference between this…

// Imperative UI (Kotlin)
// ======================
val helloButton = Button()
helloButton.text = "Hello, World!"
val layout = Layout()
layout.add(helloButton)

…and this:

// Declarative UI (Kotlin)
// =======================
Layout {
    Button("Hello, World!")
}

The first one specifies, step by step, how to build a simple UI, while the second simply says “this is the UI I want”.

This is a brand new way to build Android UIs, and it’s expected to become the standard way. Now is you chance to get a head start, and the following links can be your first steps.

Get Started with Jetpack Compose

If you want to learn Jetpack Compose, start here — at developer.android.com, where they’ve got a page of links on learning the basics.

Android Developers’ Jetpack Compose Tutorial

In this official tutorial direct from Android’s own creators, you’ll learn Jetpack Compose by building a screen for a chat app that features:

  • A list of expandable and animated messages
  • With each message containing an image and some text,
  • Using Material Design principles with a dark theme included

…and all in fewer than 100 lines of code.

Android Developers’ Jetpack Compose Basics

You’ll want to supplement the article above with this video, which also has you writing a list-based application using Jetpack Compose.

CODE Magazine’s A Practical Introduction to Jetpack Compose Android Apps

This article introduces Jetpack Compose in small steps, starting with a “Hello, World!” app. It goes from there to introduce key concepts such as state, modifiers, and layouts. Finally, you’re introduced to the list and are shown how to use it by building a list of famous comic book superheroes.

Categories
Mobile Programming

What’s new in Android Studio Arctic Fox?

This article is part of the Android August series, in which I’m writing an Android development-related article every day during the month of August 2021.

If you haven’t updated Android Studio lately, you may not be aware that the newest revision, codenamed Arctic Fox, has been released on the stable channel. That means that it’s the official current version of Android Studio.

This new version packs a lot of interesting new goodies, but for me, the biggest development is built-in support for Jetpack Compose — the new declarative/reactive/state-driven way to build user interfaces — and the accessibility scanner for the Layout Editor.

To find out more, check out this video from Android Developers: