Tech­nol­ogy At last, a pure and sim­ple An­droid

The Southland Times - - Front Page -

Anew ver­sion of An­droid has ar­rived in New Zealand of­fer­ing a sim­ple and se­cure smart­phone ex­pe­ri­ence.

An­droid One also tack­les the big­gest prob­lem with the op­er­at­ing sys­tem, the fact that phone man­u­fac­tur­ers add their own tweaks and fea­tures to the soft­ware to make it stand out.

These ‘‘im­prove­ments’’ are of­ten crit­i­cised as be­ing bloat­ware – a term that’s used to de­scribe un­nec­es­sary soft­ware.

That’s why An­droid fans of­ten pre­fer a ‘‘pure’’ ver­sion of the op­er­at­ing sys­tem, which can be found on phones made by Google. Most other An­droid man­u­fac­tur­ers, such as Sam­sung, Sony, LG, Huawei, and Oppo make al­ter­ations.

But now con­sumers have an­other op­tion.

An­droid One was re­leased in 2014 for first-time smart­phone users in emerg­ing mar­kets. But now it’s be­ing rolled out in other mar­kets, in­clud­ing New Zealand.

The soft­ware is de­scribed as the ‘‘purest ver­sion’’ of the op­er­at­ing sys­tem and of­fers a guar­an­tee that it’s stable and not loaded with other apps or bloat­ware.

Nokia has just re­leased two midrange smart­phones loaded with An­droid One in New Zealand.

The Nokia 6.1 ($499) is avail­able now and the Nokia 7 Plus ($699) goes on sale on Tues­day.

Ben­e­fits of An­droid One

Ac­cord­ing to Google, An­droid One is ‘‘every­thing you want, noth­ing you don’t’’. That in­cludes a sim­ple, un­clut­tered de­sign and user ex­pe­ri­ence and no du­pli­cate apps loaded on by the phone man­u­fac­turer.

That means ac­cess to all Google apps, such as Maps, Pho­tos, Duo (video call­ing app), and Docs. You also get Google Play Pro­tect, which keeps your apps se­cure and helps stop mal­ware-in­fected apps from be­ing down­loaded.

You also get Google As­sis­tant, which is the com­pany’s voice­ac­ti­vated dig­i­tal as­sis­tant. It can help you send texts, add things to your cal­en­dar, open apps, and op­er­ate Maps when nav­i­gat­ing.

One of the best ad­van­tages is that your de­vice will re­ceive up to two years of up­grades to the lat­est ver­sion of An­droid. You don’t need to wait for your de­vice’s man­u­fac­turer to re­lease up­dates, as Google con­trols the soft­ware. Some An­droid man­u­fac­tur­ers are very slow to update their phone which puts them at risk.

But An­droid One isn’t just for begin­ners who want some­thing sim­ple. An­droid en­thu­si­asts will value hav­ing a pure sys­tem.

Google also has an­other ‘‘pure’’ An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem that runs on Google’s more ex­pen­sive Pixel phones. These have a few ex­tra fea­tures such as Pixel Launcher, which of­fers a dif­fer­ent home screen ex­pe­ri­ence.

Nokia phones

Mid-priced phones now offer every­thing you need from a phone, and the two Nokias are ex­am­ples of this. The Nokia 6.1 has a 5.5-inch screen that is bright and clear, and it’s got a sturdy de­sign with a neat thin band of colour, which adds a nice de­tail.

How­ever, it is a big phone and can tricky to wield one-handed.

The pro­ces­sor and mem­ory are OK and mostly the phone works well. Power users might want to look for some­thing with more grunt. How­ever, it was quick when tak­ing pho­tos and the 16MP main cam­era takes good-look­ing pic­tures. It can strug­gle in low-light but all phones in this price range have that prob­lem. It’s also got 4K video record­ing, a nice bonus for a phone at this price.

Its 32GB stor­age will be enough for most peo­ple though you can ex­pand it to 128 if you store lots of video on your phone.

It also has fast charg­ing – you can charge 50 per cent of your phone’s bat­tery in just 30 min­utes – and a fin­ger­print scan­ner that’s on the back un­der the cam­era lens. There’s also a 3.5mm head­phone jack, a fea­ture that is dis­ap­pear­ing from a lot of phones.

The Nokia 7 Plus costs an ex­tra $200.

The most no­tice­able dif­fer­ence with this phone is the taller de­sign. It uses an 18:9 screen ra­tio that is found on the lat­est phones such as the Sam­sung Galaxy S9, com­pared the more com­mon 16:9 ra­tio.

In ad­di­tion to the fea­tures on the Nokia 6, you also get a sec­ond 13MP sen­sor which of­fers a zoom that lets you get closer to the ac­tion. Other cam­era ben­e­fits, in­clude a Pro Cam­era mode which gives you more con­trol over your pho­tog­ra­phy. It also has a bet­ter front cam­era if selfies are im­por­tant to you.

It’s also quicker, has twice the stor­age ca­pac­ity, and has a larger bat­tery, which lasts longer than its smaller sib­ling. Through An­droid One, both phones squeeze a lot of life out of their bat­ter­ies. The soft­ware pri­ori­tises back­ground ac­tiv­ity for your most im­por­tant apps and it re­duces power us­age while in your pocket.

If you like your phone to be sim­ple, then An­droid One is worth con­sid­er­ing. And when paired with Nokia’s new hand­sets, it of­fers a good op­tion for any­one look­ing for a new smart­phone. Ama­zon’s new chil­dren’s ver­sion of its smart speaker is the lat­est push by tech com­pa­nies to target young­sters.

Ear­lier this year, Face­book re­leased Messenger Kids, Google has YouTube Kids, and Ama­zon also has a kids-spe­cific tablet.

Then there’s the thou­sands of apps and games tar­geted at young chil­dren. While teens and their par­ents have been deal­ing with the de­mands of tech for a while, some of these new prod­ucts, such as Messenger Kids, target chil­dren as young as 6.

Tech com­pa­nies say they make kids’ ver­sions as a way to safely in­tro­duce young peo­ple to tech.

But I hope par­ents are more wary. Tech com­pa­nies are not al­tru­is­tic, they ex­ist to make money and young kids rep­re­sent an un­tapped mar­ket.

It also helps cre­ate brand loy­alty. Google, Ap­ple and

Google claims An­droid One is ‘‘every­thing you want, noth­ing you don’t’’, in­clud­ing a sim­ple, un­clut­tered de­sign and user ex­pe­ri­ence.

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