CategoryAndroid

Android Pay Singapore – How To Set Up and Use

After being available in the US for quite some time, Android Pay finally made its Asian debut last week, starting with Singapore due to the country’s being among the most mature, if not the most, when it comes to technological advancements and infrastructure. Seeing that Apple Pay and Samsung Pay made their moves  earlier, there’s no better time to than now for Google to go full blast with their mobile contactless payment offerings in Asia.

Participating Banks at Launch

Most of the major banks in Singapore sign on as launch partners for Android Pay in Singapore – namely DBS, POSB, UOB, OCBC and Standard Chartered. Simply put, if you’re in Singapore and have an Android device with OS 4.4 KitKat and higher, chances are you can straightaway start using Android Pay on your phone.

This is also a crucial opportunity for innovation and capturing new target segments for these banks as there has not been any notable “innovations” coming out of financial institutions in this region, if ever. If you do a quick search on Google for “Android Pay Singapore”, you can see the likes of OCBC, POSB competing aggressively in the SEM and SEO spaces respectively with rebates, promotions, offers, etc specifically relating to the use of Android Pay in Singapore.

How To Set Up and Use

Setting up and using Android Pay is as easy as 1, 2, 3… literally, as I can sum up the steps required in 3. If you’re lazy to go back and watch the video I embedded at the beginning of this post, here you go:

1. Install, Enable or Update Android Pay on your Android Phone (any phone will work as long as you have OS 4.4 KitKat and above). Play Store Link for Android Pay

2. Launch Android Pay app on your phone and add your credit/debit card (just like you would on any payment app, such as PayPal). So far, DBS, POSB, OCBC and Standard Chartered cards will work. For more details, check with your card providers for benefits, uses, etc.

3. Tap and Pay at the Paywave terminals across hundreds of retailers islandwide.

Participating Retailers at Launch

Android Pay SG Retailers at launch

Android Pay SG Retailers at launch

As I posted on Instagram earlier today, it’s just a matter of time more and more retailers sign up and Android Pay can be widely used all across Singapore. As for how long it would take, it’s a matter of how quickly Google and merchants figure out the-chicken-or-the-egg issue of whether users need to see more participating merchants first to start using or whether merchants need to see more users first in order to integrate. With the crazy amount of campaigning going on? My money is on the adoption rate to be fast – I mean banks are already understanding the importance and preparing their offerings for it; now we just need a lot of retailers to understand that vision of the future and adapt.

Android Pay Sequence

How to install Android N Beta – Pixel C, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X

Fresh off the exciting Google I/O 2016, Android N Beta Program is now open for anyone and everyone who owns a compatible Nexus device. It’s very straightforward to enrol your device into the program and get OTA updates overtime until the stable version is released.

Step 1: Go to Settings and ensure you have done a Backup

In my experience, nothing went wrong and all my data have been retained after I installed and booted up Android N Beta (also known as Developer Preview 3). But just in case. Or in general, you’re not advised to install on your main advice at all.

Step 2: Sign up your device for Android N Beta Program with the link below

Android Beta Program Signup Link

Simply click on the above link on your eligible Nexus device (Pixel C, Nexus 6P, Nexus 6, Nexus 5X, etc.) and you’ll be led to the program login page where you need to login with your Google credentials and enrol your device.

Once you’re done enrolling your device. You will receive an OTA that is between 900 MB and 1.2 GB (depending on your device) to download and install. The download process does take quite a while (even on my Gigabit WiFi), so you might want to make sure you have ample time to do this.

Should you install Android N Beta?

If you are adventurous and if you are fine with certain apps showing you errors from time to time, by all means go ahead and do it. The performance is way more snappy and you can tell the main difference when you’re installing the app and launching it for the first time. However, in the video you’ll see that the NBA app on my Pixel C keeps crashing every time I try to stream a live game, so if you rely on league pass on your main device heavily, I’d advise you to hold off on upgrading to Android N Beta just yet until they sort out all the quirks.

Lastly, the split-screen mode works better than I expected (although there were some bugs with YouTube during my testing yesterday) and because of this it absolutely makes my Pixel C the best buy of 2016 so far. What do you think? Feel free to reach out to me via commenting or @richxiong across the web. Stay tuned for more updates on Android N.

Google Pixel C – Unboxing and Quick Look in Singapore

Google Pixel C is possibly the best Android tablet your money can buy on the market right now, and it’s going to cost you. Starting at 499 USD for its base model (32 GB, thanks goodness), one might wonder whom is the target audience for Google’s latest attempt at hardware.

Don’t get me wrong – Pixel C is absolutely gorgeous with topnotch specs internally and features a great industrial design in an anodized aluminum unibody enclosure. Why then did I sound as if the device couldn’t quite justify for its asking price? The software, but I’ll get to that in my full review since I’ve only had this device for 4 days.

With the Pixel C developer discount that is 25% off (available for anyone who claims to be one apparently), Google Pixel C suddenly looks like a steal for anyone contemplating back and forth due to the price factor. After requesting for my discount, the email came through within 8 hours that looks something like the below:

Developer discount 25% off

Developer discount 25% off

Since the country I live in (Singapore) doesn’t have access to Google Store just yet, I had to resort to using my secondary Gmail address that doesn’t have all of location history on my main Android phone, and a VPN provider such as TunnelBear available on any device you can think of; the service works great and comes with free 500 MB++ for first-time browsing. I then would have to use a shipping forwarder to get Pixel C shipped to Singapore. The whole process took about 1.5 week, which is really fast considering the main holdup was with putting it on the plane flying from the States back to SG. And the damage? About 508 SGD (~375 USD) + 55 SGD or so for shipping (~40 USD).

Pixel C is a steal at this price point

Pixel C is an absolute steal at this price

Alright, that’s about it for the background and quick unboxing of Google Pixel C in Singapore. Stay tuned for more updates on device performance, my use cases, comparisons with my previous device, iPad Mini Retina, and a full review. Follow me on Twitter, Instagram and bookmark this site for more updates.

3D Touch on Instagram for Android

 

Instagram is bringing back 3D Touch to their Android app after a brief appearance and disappearance back in early December 2015. Instagram believes that it’s meaningful and beneficial to bring the 3D Touch feature to Android even though 99% of the Android phones out there don’t have pressure-sensitive touch screen.

In a nutshell? This is just a glorified long press on Android as of now, but a very exciting development since 3D touch is bound to become more prevalent in 2016 and beyond!

You do need the latest version of Instagram in order to enjoy this limited feature on Android right now. Go to Play Store and upgrade your Instagram to 7.13.1 and have fun with the peek and pop.

Nexus 6P Review – Top 6 Reasons That Make 6P A Winner

6P Unboxed

Image Gallery

Huawei and Lazada teamed up to launch Nexus 6P in Singapore

Unlike previous years when I had to buy the Nexus phones from the US and shipped via a third-party provider, Huawei has made arrangements this year to launch it in Singapore with Lazada as the partner platform of choice. I managed to snatch one up when the preorder opened on 2nd November and the phone arrived on 21st November.

Preorder price for Nexus 6P 64 GB started at SGD 899, with 128 GB going at SGD 999. Huawei doesn’t sell any 32 GB variant in Singapore, so you may have to opt to buy from the US if you really want to save some costs. While I went with a 64 GB version, 128 GB version is a really good deal as you get twice the storage for just 100 dollars more.

Buy Nexus 6P in Singapore from Lazada

Buy Nexus 6P in Singapore from Lazada

1. No Compromise on Hardware

The biggest noticeable difference of the flagship Nexus device this year is the full aluminum unibody design, at a smaller footprint than the beast of a phone last year in Motorola’s Nexus 6. I decided to rock a dbrand skin because I like how the vinyl skin helps with the grip and I don’t want to ever drop this gorgeous piece of device.

Nexus 6P with dbrand carbon fiber skin

When it comes to hardware specs, Nexus 6P can be best summed up as the no-nonsense and no-compromise Nexus device.

Dimensions 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm (6.27 x 3.06 x 0.29 in)
Weight 178 g (6.28 oz)
Screen 5.7 inches AMOLED Capacitive
Resolution 1440 x 2560 pixels (~518 ppi pixel density)
Operating System Android OS, v6.0 (Marshmallow)
Storage 32/64/128 GB
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810
CPU Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57
GPU Adreno 430
RAM 3 GB
Main Camera 12.3 MP, f/2.0, laser autofocus, dual-LED (dual tone) flash
Bluetooth v4.2, A2DP, LE
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 3450 mAh battery

Basically, any high-end specification you would expect from a flagship device can be found in Nexus 6P and it is priced way lower than other devices featuring the same specs.

2. Stock Android and First In Line to Get New Features

Keeping up with the annual tradition, Nexus 6P is the first device to be launched with Android 6.0, also known as Marshmallow. Visually and functionally, Android Marshmallow is very similar to Lollipop – with the only difference of being a much more polished version with all the bugs crushed and battery life massively improved. And I believe that’s what more than any Android enthusiast can hope for.

Less than a month in, I’ve already received the security update for December 2015, which also features improvements in how Bluetooth audio is handled, LTE radio and a bunch of other updates – you should be able to read more from the changelog. You will also be the first in line to get Android updates globally. Even though they are pushed out in batches and you might have to wait, flashing a factory image is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

Highlight Feature – Now On Tap

Now On Top Testing

Now On Top Testing

Now On Top Contextual Searches

Now On Top Contextual Searches

3. Amazing Fingerprint Scanner

Nexus imprint and visor

Most smartphone makers have stepped up their game when it comes to fingerprint scanning technology and implementation, but Huawei is especially known for their super fast and accurate technology. Nexus 6P’s fingerprint scanner, also known as Nexus Imprint, is ridiculously fast and because it’s located at the back right where index fingers would naturally rest, the user experience is second to none. With Android Pay and biometric authentication becoming increasingly prevalent, Nexus 6P is definitely future-proof for the foreseeable future.

Crazy fast and easy process

Crazy fast and easy process

4. Gorgeous qHD Display and Dual Front-Facing Speakers

Nexus 6P reportedly features the same latest generation Samsung Galaxy Note 5’s display at 2560 x 1440 resolution, which translates to 518 pixels per inch (ppi). This ppi is higher than that of Nexus 6 due to Nexus 6P’s display measuring at 5.7 inches, compared to 5.96 on Nexus 6.

6P’s Gorgeous qHD Display

The front-facing speakers on Huawei’s Nexus 6P are also clear and crisp even at full blast, but one thing to note is that the bottom grill sounds noticeably softer than the top grill. Other users have also reported this finding, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me in any way.

5. All-Day Battery Life

Other than Samsung Galaxy Note 4, 5 and OnePlus One that I personally used before, Nexus 6P has one of the longest lasting batteries in any Android device. This is due to two main things – 1) Android 6.0 Marshmallow’s feature ‘Doze’, which makes the device much more power-efficient at standby and 2) Nexus 6P’s featuring a 3,450 mAh battery.

Because of Doze, I would now lose at most 2 – 3% overnight on standby as things refresh more slowly and less frequently when the device is in rest mode. The screen-on time is consistently between 3.5 hours to 4.5 hours depending on how heavy my usage is.

All-Day Battery

All-Day Battery

Screen on time

Screen on time

Some of the use cases below for your reference:

  • Brightness at 70% (no auto-brightness enabled)
  • Bluetooth on most of the day connected to Moto 360 and Jaybird X2 during commutes
  • Video consumption: YouTube or MX Player between 30 – 40 mins a day
  • Spotify offline playback during commutes with Jaybird X2 bluetooth earbuds
  • Location Setting at High Accuracy
  • Always connected to the internet – Wifi 40% of the time, LTE 60% of the time.

6. Camera Performance

Finally a Nexus device with a decent camera! In fact, a decent camera is rather an understatement because Nexus 6P’s camera is right up there with the top flagship smartphone cameras out there. DXO Mark ranks Nexus 6P at number 3 overall in camera performance, just behind Sony Xperia Z5 and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge by a small margin of difference.

Sample shot with 6P in a good lighting condition

Sample shot with 6P in a good lighting condition

In day to day uses, I am fully confident that Nexus 6P will churn out really solid photos with great color accuracy, sharpness and focus. I can’t say the same about the previous Nexus devices I had used. You can check out the multiple comparison videos and camera samples from Nexus 6P below to find out more:

http://www.droid-life.com/2015/10/19/nexus-6p-camera-review-and-sample-bonanza/

How One Plus Drops The Ball With OnePlus 2

2016 Flagship Killer? LOL, more like a flagship wannabe that kills itself before 2016.

2016 Flagship Killer? LOL, more like a flagship wannabe that kills itself before 2016.

Android Police recently released a long, super well-written editorial post titled “If OnePlus Will Basically Just Lie With Marketing Slogans, We Have No Reason To Respect Them”. This is one of the key reasons I scroll through Android Police on a daily basis for content consumption. Straight up, no nonsense and most important of all logical presentation of all the facts.

<rant>

Sure, OnePlus was quite an intriguing company when it first came out (it still is, in a way). Hell, I even excitedly bought a OnePlus One (now, that review looks ironic next to this post), only to discover a few weeks later then that the touch screen was absolute crap – OnePlus is still arguing it’s a software issue. But if a company has to take one year to completely fix a “simple software issue”, how is it never settling? That’s settling a fuck lot because you can’t even type correctly with that lousy piece of touch screen.

When I saw all the hype leading up to OnePlus 2 launch and the specs sheet when it came out, it’s laughable at best and ridiculous at worst. We can literally see so many compromises everywhere on the specs sheet that it’s not even in my consideration to give it another shot. Despite my terrible experience with the One, I was willing to keep an open mind. But nah, not anymore.

  • 1080p display (and you want to be future-proof?)
  • No NFC
  • Base model at 16 GB/3 GB RAM (but you heavily hype up your 4 GB RAM?)
  • Oxygen OS… welp, yeah it’s really clean. But we don’t know how fast they can update in the future.

It’s simple – when companies can offer you flagship-like specs (note: I am not calling them flagship devices) in a relatively much much cheaper and rather well-designed phone, the manufacturers gotta cut corner somewhere. In Nexus 5, there’s the power button rattling issue; I know it’s not for everyone but there’s a large enough community of people who faced that issue. Just do a Google search. In OnePlus One – obviously the touch screen (the forum thread for One’s touchscreen issues is 302 pages deep as of this writing). Would OnePlus learn the lessons and fix all issues with the 2? *shrugs* only time will tell but I won’t be finding it out first-hand.

</rant>

So, what phone would I buy next?

If Nexus refreshes disappoint, this is it for the next year.

If Nexus refreshes disappoint, this is it for the next year.

I am currently using a Nexus 6, so I am definitely waiting for the Nexus refreshes to see if they spark anything. Though if you ask me, it seems like the only #NeverSettle devices in the recent years are Moto X and Moto G series? At least I haven’t heard many complaints about them except that their battery life is subpar due to using < 3,000 mAh battery inside. But with Android M’s upcoming power management feature, Doze, and with Moto X Style featuring 3,000 mAh battery, I think I am willing to let go of my Nexus 6, to downgrade from 5.9 inch to 5.7 inch with much better specs and camera. I believe the feel in the hand will be much more solid as well, since I am already getting used to the 5.9-inch form factor.

[Update]: OnePlus recently posted that there are already a million people on the reservation list for invites to buy the 2. I don’t know if the 2 might actually still turn out to be a “success”, but I am definitely not buying it, though I am one of the million who signed up.

What’s New in Android 5.1 + How To Install The Lollipop Update in Nexus Devices via ADB

I’ve had terrible luck getting OTA updates (if ever) on my Nexus devices in the last couple of years. Once in a while, the file would hit one of my devices a few hours after it’s announced; other times, rooting/flashing (or to a lesser extent, sideloading) seemed like the only way to go. With the tech community’s going abuzz with Android 5.1, granted it’s only a matter of time I’d get it onto one of my Nexus devices.

When I tried to sideload 5.1 earlier today on my Nexus 5, I ran into some incompatible adb issues and it also didn’t help that the sticky power button on my Nexus 5 made the whole process unnecessarily much longer. This post is really more like a checklist for newbies as well as a reference for myself in future. Let’s start off with the tools/files we need to make this process as seamless as possible:

Android OTA Files (check the build number of your device first)

Nexus 5: Factory Image: (Android 5.0.1 –> Android 5.1) LRX22C

Nexus 5: Factory Image: (Android 5.0 –> Android 5.1) LRX21O

Nexus 6: Factory Image: (Android 5.0.1 –> Android 5.1) LRX22C

Nexus 7 (2012/WiFi): Factory Image (Android 5.0.2 –> Android 5.1) LRX22G

Nexus 10: Factory Image (Android 5.0.2 –> Android 5.1) LRX22G

These are all the factory images that are currently available to public; I’ll be updating this post with links for the remaining devices as and when they become available. Although this post is tailored for Nexus 5 (Hammerhead) users, the process of sideloading is more or less the same for other Nexus devices.

Before Proceeding, Check (and do) These First:

  • That your computer has the latest ADB and Fastboot 1.0.32 and Google USB Drivers installed (earlier versions of ADB won’t work with Nexus 5).
  • That USB Debugging is enabled on your Nexus device (Settings > Developer Options). If you don’t have Developer Options enabled, tap “Build Number” several times until you get it.

Unlocking bootloader and flashing a new factory image will wipe your device clean, so make sure you do a backup of your pictures, videos, mp3s, app data and whatnot. 

Step 1: Unzip and Prepare the Files

Unzip your ADB, Fastboot 1.0.32 file, rename it to something easier to remember (I use N5) and move it to the desktop for easier reference. Also, copy your factory image file into the fastboot folder. So, the final content of the folder on your desktop should look like this:

Nexus5.zip is the factory image file.

Nexus5.zip is the factory image file.

Step 2: Unlock the Bootloader

How do you check if the bootloader is unlocked? If your bootloader is unlocked, you will see an unlocked padlock icon on the bottom of your screen when you first start up your phone (under Google logo).

If not,

1. Get into recovery by pressing Volume Down + Power at the same time.

Recovery

2. Once you get into recovery, plug your device into the computer via USB.

3. Open your command prompt on your computer (Windows > cmd) and navigate to the folder you just renamed and unzipped on your Desktop (N5 in this example).

4. Type fastboot devices to check if your device is properly recognized (if you don’t get anything returned, it means you might need to go back to install Google USB Drivers as I mentioned earlier or choose a different USB port).

5. If your device is returned in the CMD window, go ahead and use fastboot oem unlock to unlock the bootloader (both steps summed up in the pic below):

CMD6. Of course, you should receive a success message about your bootloader’s being unlocked. Then restart your bootloader by using the volume up/down button on your phone or type adb reboot bootloader.

Step 3: Get into Android System Recovery and Sideload Android 5.1! 

1. Now, your bootloader should have been rebooted, and you should be back to this screen below.

Processed with VSCOcam

2. Use the Vol Down button to get to “Recovery Mode” and press “Power” button once.

3. You’ll now see a green Droid icon in the middle with a red exclamation mark on it. On this screen, hold the power button for a couple of seconds and tap Volume Up.

4. You should now be in the Android System Recovery, where you need to select “Apply Update from ADB”.

Processed with VSCOcam5. After selecting the (second) option, you should now see a blank screen with yellow text at the end, which describes how to sideload the factory image.

6. Go back to your CMD on your Windows and type adb sideload nexus5.zip. Make sure to check your factory image name before you hit enter.

7. It would now take about 5 – 10 mins for the ADB to install Android 5.1 on your Nexus 5 and once it’s completed, reboot to enjoy the new and improved Lollipop update!

Android 5.1 Screenshot

OnePlus One on Cyanogenmod 12 Nightly + Franco Kernel = #NeverSettle in Battery Life & Performance

For readers who celebrate, Happy Lunar New Year guys! Thanks to an uber long weekend (3-day break + weekend) for Chinese New Year, I am finally getting around to my backlog of blog topics I’ve planned out for this site. The post I am writing today is sort of “back to the roots” for me as Cyanogenmod-related flashing/tweaking articles were why people started coming to read this blog in the first place.

Buying OnePlus One

There’s an invite to buy OnePlus One sitting around in my inbox for the better part of the last few months but I didn’t really get down to buying because I was deep in my research on what’s next from Nexus 5, which had really served me well for the past 1 year until the power button issue made me seriously consider switching.

After much deliberation, I decided to go ahead with OnePlus One as it would be future proof for a few quarters before more off-contract phones worth buying come out. I was quite impressed that the shipping services from OnePlus One as well as vPost were very efficient; I got my phone within 10 days of placing the order, which is quite awesome, considering Singapore is not officially in the list of countries.

Unboxing Shots

 

Technical Specifications

As with any product review I do, let’s get the technical specs out of the way first:

Dimensions 6.02 x 2.99 x 0.35 in
Weight 5.71 oz
Screen 5.5 inches LTPS LCD Capacitive TS
Resolution 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 ppi)
Operating System Cyanogenmod 11S, upgradable to v4.4.4 (KitKat) | Planned upgrade to v5.0 (Lollipop)
Storage 64 GB
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8974AC Snapdragon 801
CPU Quad-core 2.5 GHz Krait 400
GPU Adreno 330
RAM 3 GB
Main Camera 13 MP, 4128 x 2096 pixels
Bluetooth Version 4.1, A2DP
Battery Non-removable Li-Po 3,100 mAh

Back To The Flashing Biz

I haven’t flashed Cyanogenmod to any of my devices in the last couple of years, mainly because I started working full-time and most of the time I needed my phone to be working 100%. That and the lack of time – I simply couldn’t prioritize spending many hours a night reading through forum posts, backing up, setting up the phone and testing on a regular basis.

OnePlus One (OPO) came with a modified version of Cyanogenmod 11 called CM 11S that is meant only for OPO (if you want to know the main differences between 11 and 11S, check out this piece by Android Pit). Out of the box, I received a system update that should contain bug/stability fixes for the shipped OS but it’s still based on Android 4.4.4 Kitkat. Not that there’s anything wrong or bad about using Kitkat but after using only Android Lollipop for the last few months on my Nexus devices, I just find it very lacking to go back to an older OS on a new phone.

So, this happened within the first few hours of unboxing…..

Fastboot ADB on OnePlus One

Team Win Recovery aka TWRP

Cyanogenmod 12 Nightly + Franco Kernel 

If you’re familiar with the process, you are only here for review on stability and whether it’s good enough as a daily driver, which I will get to in a min. New to the flashing scene? Fret not, make sure you read through this OnePlus forum post multiple times before attempting anything.

The post only covered flashing CM 12 and GApps with a ton of useful information on backup/restoration and other stuff. Franco Kernel is recommended by people over at Twitter simply because it could make the battery life as good as stock – as of writing this, I am on Franco kernel r38 version (available here) and three days in, there’s absolutely zero issue with performance or battery life for that matter.

OnePlus One About Phone

Bugs

In the first build that I flashed (20150215), there was this annoying volume bug that would pump up the media playback volume a notch at random times (usually after locking the phone). That almost became a deal-breaker because I listen to music all the time on my mobile phone during commute and it’d be quite annoying if the listening experience is not seamless.

As I looked to single out the one audio issue, I decided to flash a new build (I left the “Check Daily” option on by default. Now changed to weekly). There’s no more volume bug in the current build I am on, 20150217.

CM 12 Nightly OPO

Battery Life

A little bit of context into the screenshots that follow. My main use cases are as follows:

  • Brightness level at 50% (I don’t use adaptive brightness)
  • MX Player (watched 45 mins of videos with Bluetooth audio through Jaybird Bluebuds X)
  • Heavy use of Flipboard, Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook, Fenix throughout the night
  • Took 15 – 20 shots with camera
  • Spotify offline music playback with Bluetooth audio on my commute (about 1.5 hour)
  • LTE always-on (otherwise, Wi-Fi)
  • Ambient display notification on
  • 15 – 20 mins of YouTube playback (1080p)

OPO CM 12 Battery

OPO CM 12 Screen On

Is it good enough to be a daily driver?

For me personally with the use cases mentioned, it’s a big yes! There’s no major bug on these nightly builds anymore and Franco kernel makes damn sure that there’s no sacrifice when it comes to battery life. I will be updating these nightly builds once a week or maybe I will just wait until the stable version comes out. The bottom line is – if nothing breaks, don’t flash a new build.

Workaround for Nexus 5 Power Button Issue

I know I am not alone in this problem when I did a search for Nexus 5 Power Button Issue and more than a handful of discussion threads came up, all describing most of the same thing.

To give a little context to the specific problem I am facing – I got my Nexus 5 in February this year and it’s been an incredible experience using it until a couple of weeks ago. I started noticing this issue when my phone started rebooting randomly or getting stuck in a boot loop. At first thought, I didn’t associate it with a potential hardware failure because I’ve been tweaking Android for years and the natural association was to start tracing back what I did with the phone.

After a couple of days of futile attempt to locate the issue (I even stopped using ART because I thought one of the apps was causing the incompatibility), I started realizing that the boot loop or “random” reboot occurred either immediately after locking the screen or unlocking the screen. Not too long after, it dawned on me that the power button had been stuck from time to time and whenever that happened, my phone would get into a boot loop.

The Solution

The most legitimate solution in this case is to claim your RMA; you’ll almost certainly get a replacement with no question asked. But the I live in Singapore and I bought my Nexus 5 through my cousin who lived in the States, so getting it replaced isn’t exactly a walk in the park for me (not a priority for now).

The Workaround

As I am not looking to replace my phone any sooner, I’ve started scavenging for a semi-long-term solution with one objective in mind – avoid the use of power button if at all possible. Here is what my current setup looks like (note: I haven’t touched the power button for over 4 days except when I was taking the upcoming app screenshots for this blog post):

App 1: Gravity Screen

gravity screen

What it does: Lock/unlock screen via proximity sensor, motion or a combination of both.

Pros: Highly customizable, Works 90% of the time, Not battery-killing.

Cons: A tad challenging to get used to Motion Sensitivity. Proximity Sensor could be too sensitive (or not responsive at all) at times.

Bottom Line: I’ve tried more than a handful of proximity sensor apps and I think this is the closest to a perfect solution.

Play Store Linkhttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.plexnor.gravityscreenofffree&hl=en

App 2: Screen Off and Lock

screen off and lock

What it does: Lock the screen by tapping a notification icon that’s always-on.

Pros: Caters to use cases where I don’t put the phone on the table or keep in my pocket.

Cons: Limited usage. Likely redundant for most use cases.

Bottom Line: Complimentary solution to Gravity Screen – mainly for use cases when I hold Nexus 5 in my hand (e.g. while walking). In such a situation, both pocket sensor and flat-surface sensor won’t work.

Play Store Linkhttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.katecca.screenofflock&hl=en

Going Paperless? Best eBook Reader for Android

Split screen of Moon+ Reader's shelf screen and reading screen on Nexus 7 2013.

Going paperless – thousands of books in your palm.

I know I don’t strike a lot of people as someone who reads a lot (in the most traditional sense of the word anyway), but I do have a personal commitment, albeit way overdue, to read more. With a plethora of distractions in our hyperconnected world, it just seems like one can never make reading a big enough priority over say chatting on Facebook, posting passive aggressive tweets, scrolling through Instagram feeds, watching random YouTube videos…… you get my point.

eBook Reader Setup for Android

While the Kindle’s E Ink screen tries to replicate the paper experience as closely as possible, there are a variety of reasons why I wouldn’t pick up a Kindle just for the sake of reading. If you want a tl;dr – they don’t provide any other value, and that’s ok for most readers; I get it.

I am very publicly a Google fanboy, so every point I make is going to be in favor of why turning your Android tablet (Nexus 7 2013 in my case) into a part-time eBook reader is really the best of both worlds.

Moon+ Reader

Play Store Link for Moon+

These are all backlogged, by the way.

I may be a tad obsessed with GQ. Just a tad.

Before I discovered Moon+ Reader, I was predominantly using Aldiko for all my ePubs and Mantano Reader for my PDF magazines. But Moon+ Reader quickly became my default eBook reader 15 minutes upon installation; in fact, I purchased the Pro version within the same time frame. That’s kinda the testament to how much I love this sleek app.

Setting up Moon+ Reader is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

1. Import

There are two sources where you can get your books from – the first one is your own ePub files locally stored on your device. To import books, you first need to set your main folder to the folder that contains all your epub, pdf, mobi, or practically any recognizable file type. Click on Options from the menu and set your main folder:

Moon+ Reader Option

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After importing, you can access all your books in “My Shelf” every time you start up the app. There will also be a Google’s carousel-like bar on top that shows you your current reads with % progress, which is really nifty.

Moon+ Reader Startup Screen

2. Customize and Enjoy

Aside from the aforementioned customization option, Moon+ Reader also provides very specific visual options within the reader screen. Check out the short walk-through below:

Upgrading to Pro

Moon+ Pro

At 6 SGD (about 4.8 USD) price tag, Moon+ Reader Pro isn’t exactly a very affordable app for what it does. But I support great developers in the Android ecosystem, plus the app looks so much more premium without those cheeky banner ads at the bottom; it comes down to the personal POV on how you feel about ads and app purchases.