Technology At last, a pure and simple Android
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.
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.