Just got a Nexus 5x

Just got a new phone last week, and its one of the new Nexus phones

I recently bought a Nexus 5x from our favorite search engine, Google. Incase you didn't know I am an Android fanboy, to really specify I am an apple hater. Outside of iPhones my options are *droid or Windows Phone. Every time I have used someone else's windows phone I am honestly stricken at how great it is, but I stuck with what I know and love, which is android.

Why Nexus?

As you all are aware there are a large number of Android devices in the ecosystem that is android. The flagship phones of this year seem to be the Galaxy S6, LG G4, and various other phones that are not Nexus phones. The competitor to these phones in the Nexus line would have to be the Nexus 6p; Which is larger, and more powerful than the 5x.

UI

My huge gripe about non nexus phones, is that they are not really Android. Well they are, but they usually come with a ton of weird apps, and a non-stock UI. The UI that google ships for Android stock is fantastic. The OS looks crisp, clean, and somewhat futuristic without being tacky. Other UI's such as TouchWiz cannot even compete, and yet these manufacturers insist on adding this experience to their phones.

Updates and security

There is no doubt that Nexus phones get updates much faster than non-nexus phones. Incase you were not aware, Nexus phones get their updates pushed directly from google. These phones often receive more updates than non-nexus phones, which have to get updated though the manufacturer, working in tandem with the carrier. Google around yourself, and find out which phones got updated to Lollipop, or even Marshmallow. Most of the nexus phones have been kept up to date.

The updates are not just about features. Updates contain security fixes. At the end of the day a Smartphone is really just a computer that can place phone calls. Like any other computer, smartphones are susceptible to hacks and can be compromised. Updates can often contain security enhancements to reduce the surface area of attack to these phones, allowing your personal information to be stored safely.

Review?

Ok so I should actually review the phone right?

The Nexus 5x is the sequel to a phone (Nexus 5) that was a cheap phone that really competed with phones twice its price. The 5x fails to live up to that a little as the specs are at best what a good phone was last year. That being said this phone is extraordinary in both performance, size, and quality.

The 5x is about as fast as most Android phones. The camera is a 12 MP camera that takes pretty solid pictures. The battery life seems to last roughly 24 hours for me just doing daily activities on the phone. The fingerprint scanner can wake the phone from sleep, and is located in the centre on the back. This is a very convenient place that is usually where my index finger lands. This Nexus phone gets GPS locks every time, and never seems to stop performing beautify. Other phones such as the 6p would probably out perform it if you sat them side by side, but day to day you wouldn't notice any slowness in the 5x. Overall I'd say its a good buy for the value.

The future

I'd really love to see a day when manufacturers would stop putting custom UI's ontop of Android. I'd love to see a day where all Android phones get updates direct from google. Until that time we must live with what we have, which is a weird market place in Android land. iOS users do not have to worry about such things, and I believe the same needs to happen for Android.

Continue Reading

iPhone or Android (From a guy living with both)

I know, I know the very first question you ask is going to be why do you have two phones, the answer being One is for work, the other is for my personal life. Now that we are done with that subject, we can get on with the review...

Continue Reading

Xamarin For Android The Good: (Part 1 of 4)

Introduction

This will be a series of blog entries where I discuss the Xamarin platform for Android.

I really enjoy C# programming language (JavaScript second)....Linq, Generics, anonymous methods, and Visual Studio are just some of the reasons I like it. Xamarin is a platform that gives you the ability you to write Android applications in c#.

When I heard about Xamarin I naturally, wanted to give it a shot. Having tried Eclipse, and Android Studio for android development I was no idiot when it came to the platform. So I got a license, and did nothing with it for six months, until a few weeks ago. After only 3 days I created Ultimate Gravatar Sync. An app that sync's your contacts gravatar images to their picture in your phone.

C# with no compromise

The Xamarin platform uses mono, and some kind of voodoo bindings to the Java libraries to make it work. I wont go in depth, but the native features of the C# language are there to use. I never felt like my hands had been tied, that all of a sudden I couldn't use a library that is normally part of the GAC (Global Assembly Cache). When I needed multi-threading, System.Threading was there, and when I needed to use C# Generics I had no issues implementing them.

Xamarin execution

Manage Android Manifest files

One of the things that blew me away about the platform, was that I never had to add anything to my manifest file. For those of you whom don't know, Android requires an XML config detailing the permissions you require, and the classes you have in your application.

Simple decoration such as:

[Activity(Label = "Label", MainLauncher = true, Icon = "@drawable/Icon")]

Will Generate in your manifest file as:

<pre>
<activity
android:label="Label"
             android:name=".logoActivity" >
            <intent-filter>
                <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />
                <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
            </intent-filter>
        </activity>
    </pre>

Adding permissions is also easy:

[assembly: UsesPermission(Android.Manifest.Permission.Internet)]

Using Java Libraries

Xamarin provides some kind of crazy visual studio project, that will essentially provide c# bindings to Java libraries you require. To bind Simply create a Java Binding project, adding the .Jar files, and then build. Watch the magic happen. They do note that you sometimes need to do some configuration for certain libraries, however I had no issues with the one I tried. On top of that if you really needed to, you could access the Java Native Interface for even more power.

Continue Reading