Google IO 2016 Coverage

dbrand inc review: The one stop shop for customized 3M vinyl skins for your device

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Personalizing your Android device is something a lot of us do. After all, you’ve spend hundreds upon hundreds on these handsets, so why not give it some flare to your own liking that separates it from others? That’s where dbrand inc. comes in and provides your device with some awesome top-of-the line 3M textured vinyl’s. For review purposes I’ll be using the Nexus 4 as that’s the device I have the product installed on, although the company provides these vinyl skins on a slew of devices on their website.

First off, the quality of these vinyl’s are top-notch. According to dbrand, the vinyl’s that they use are generally reserved for architectural re-upholstering and auto body trim. Even better is the flat price of $9 per skin and you can actually request a customized skin for your liking. Just e-mail them what you have in mind and send them the images you want and they’ll be happy to work with you on what you want. Of course, customized skins often uses twice the material plus the added labor, so expect the price of that to double to about $18. With that being said, the two vinyl’s that I have from them feel and look great. As you can see with the pictures below, the cutouts are dead on with the camera and speakers. What’s even more surprising is how well the “nexus” letters were cut in precision to perfectly match it on my Nexus.

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Texture wise, these aren’t just cheap “stickers” that have been slapped together. While the titanium seen above isn’t real titanium, it looks just as real and has great texture. Same goes with the black carbon fiber skin that is seen below, the texture is great and you can actually feel each line. I can’t say enough how great these look on your device. If you prefer a “cleaner” look and not have the “nexus” cut-out, then you can easily request that by e-mailing them.

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I’ve also found that these skins are very easy to apply. With mildly steady hands I was able to apply these in no longer than 30 seconds. The best part is that you can re-apply these numerous times, this is especially great if you bought a couple colors and decide to swap the them out as you please.

Last but not least, what makes an already great company into an awesome one? Customer service of course! After various e-mail exchanges and reading customers feedback from various threads on XDA and Reddit, dbrand provides great and speedy customer service. By far one of the best I’ve seen. What’s great is that you can shoot them an e-mail if you have any questions, whether it’s a personal request on a customized skin that you have envisioned or a general question about their products. Regardless of the inquiry they are quick to respond. You can purchase these skins on the first link below, and you can also check out their Facebook page for more HD pictures of their products on numerous devices!

Needless to say, if you’re looking to customize your device then I would highly recommend dbrand inc!

dbrand inc.
dbrand’s Facebook
XDA Thread

ADW.Launcher Gets Updated To Bring A “New Everything”

Many of you may not have the luxury of enjoying a stock or simplified launcher due to those pesky customized UI skins, but one of the better launchers in the game has just come back with a new update that’s sure to make many users happy. The latest ADW.Launcher update brings the software version to and brings pretty much a new ummm…. “everything”— whatever that means. The hope is that there are new themes and even more customizations to make even the pickiest owner happy. As expected, users will be able to do anything from resizing widgets to developing specialized app folders and all.


The app is compatible with Android 1.6+ devices, so that means that all users looking for a solid alternative have no excuse but to give the latest update a try today.


Play Store

LG Promo’s New Optimus UI 3.0 With Upcoming Launches, Offers a Slew Of New Features

LG, struggling to stay relevant in the mobile arena has announced that their Optimus UI 3.0 is ready and ahead of schedule.  The new UI 3.0 offers a ton of new features and claims to be “unobtrusive” unlike other skins we’re familiar with.  We’ll initially see the new UI with the release of the Optimus LTE II which debuts in Korea this week and elsewhere in the world on the 4X HD around June some time.  Check out the features below highlighted by LG and don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments below and whether or not you think the new skin can compete with Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s Sense 4.0.  Presser after the break.


  • the ability to unlock the phone by dragging anywhere on the screen;
  • a new Pattern Lock that allows users to preset the most frequently used function, such as the camera, which automatically opens once the phone is unlocked;
  • a simpler version of Optimus UI 3.0 for new smartphone users which organizes the main applications so that they are the easiest to access;
  • a new Voice Shutter that allows users to capture photos using only voice commands;
  • a special camera feature that enables users to pick up the best shot among multiple images including the moment just before the shutter button is depressed;
  • an Icon Customizer that provides an additional level of personalization by allowing users to set their own photos as icons and shortcut images;
  • the addition of a Download category to the menu for easier organization.

Question To Android OEMs & Manufacturers: What’s The Benefit Of Having Custom Skins On Devices?


Ah yes, the variation of the Android platform. Some people love it while others hate it. Let’s face the cold, hard truth about Android: it’s an open-source platform in which any individual can take the basic source, tweak it a little and truly make it their own. Similarly manufacturers can take the basic open source and throw it onto all sorts of devices with all sorts of hardware configurations. What do both amateur developers and established manufacturers of Android devices have in common? Each want to develop and create an end result or product that is “unique” and more or less different from its competition, while also providing a need for its customers and consumers. Amateur developers have a different perspective from both the engineers/developers at Google and OEMS– that’s to take the Android platform which notoriously omits items such as built-in functions like the ability to take screenshots and make it available for all. OEMs and manufacturers conversely see the bare Android platform as too basic and will slap on enhanced features such as social communication widgets. Independent/amateur developers and OEMs/manufacturers have different visions, but again— they’re looking at the bigger goal of answering what they perceive to be Android customer’s need ands try to address them.

What Android users truly want or need can be subjective and there’s no real right or wrong answer. However, we all believe Android’s benefit to users involve the freedom of choice. There are a myriad of options prospective and interested consumers can look into when it comes to manufacturers. For those who want a simple phone which allows for web browsing, messaging (texting and Twitter) and basic phone calls, there are a ton of budget options such as the Pantech Burst smartphone. For others who are interested in watching videos, listening to music or gaming on the go, there are other devices which feature dual-core processors with built-in GPUs such as the HTC Rezound. Whatever it is a prospective user is interested in, they’ll find what they want. Now suppose I ask this question to you: considering Android is truly an open platform, is it fair that manufacturers generally market devices with various hardware profiles, but only one UI option? More importantly, what is the benefit of having an Android device with a custom UI and would manufacturers and ultimately consumers be better off having the option to choose between a device with a custom skin or no skin at all? I personally believe that not only is it unfair for OEMs to market most devices with custom skins, but also marketing devices with no skins may be a financial benefit as well as positive perception from the various levels of the Android community.

Read more

Teknision Changing Perception Of UI Skins For Tablets By Developing Chameleon Skin Based Off ICS

Ice Cream Sandwich is away and by far the best Android OS to date. By including the most fluid UI yet while integrating noteworthy features such as facial unlock and an improved set of widgets for use, ICS makes for a solid experience using the OS and especially UI. As a trademark of Android’s open platform, ICS allows for custom “enhancements” in the form of skins (Sense, TouchWiz, MOTOBLUR, etc.) and style by the various OEM who sell Android-based devices. One thing that’s painfully obvious for many of the “enhancements” done by OEMs is many of the custom skins include well… useless features and poorly designed widgets which tend to actually slow down Android devices despite those same devices having incredible processors and memory.

And that’s exactly why you tend to see many (though not all) Android owners go the way of the ROMing route in order to stick it to OEMs and experience what they feel a solid Android experience. While some folks (like me) prefer their Android in vanilla flavor or others (like many of the writers here at TA) prefer custom ROMs and some ummm, you know— like their resource hogging skins, Canadian developer Teknision is out to re-define how Android skins should be developed. Highlighted in our Forums, the same team behind RIM’s Blackberry Playbook UI has developed not only a intriguing skin for Android 4.0’s homescreen, but a stellar one at that in its Chameleon concept which is for tablets. Hit the break to read more details about what it does and to check out a video to see it in action.  Read more

Untouched Holo Theme Now Required For Android Devices With Android Market Access


There’s no doubt the acclaim Ice Cream Sandwich has is the result of the tireless work and efforts from Google’s developers. Google may be ok with custom UI skins on top of its OS, but when it comes to the general theme of the UI of its new jewel, it’s essentially no modifying. Let me explain: Google recently decided that manufacturers who want access to the Android Market will now have to use the Holo theme—untouched and unmodified– as a specific requirement for devices that want to use the Android Market (which is umm, 99.99999% of Android devices).

That’s not to say Google isn’t restricting manufacturers from creating custom skins. In fact, Google stresses the process to create custom UI skins on top of Android 4.0 is even easier:

“We have no desire to restrict manufacturers from building their own themed experience across their devices. In fact we’ve gone further to make this even easier. In Android 4.0’s API (level 14) we’ve added a new public theme family to complement the Holo family introduced in Android 3.0: DeviceDefault. DeviceDefault themes are aliases for the device’s native look and feel. The DeviceDefault theme family and widget style family offer ways for developers to target the device’s native theme with all customizations intact.”

The bottom line: Google is making sure all Android users are getting a somewhat uniform Android 4.0 experience— even if you’re on a device with a custom skin. Adam Powell, an Android Framework Engineer said it best:

“Android apps running on 4.0 and forward can use the Holo themes and be assured that their look and feel will not change when running on a device with a custom skin”.

What this means to manufacturers is so long as they keep the general Holo theme intact, they are free to add their personal touches in the form of custom skins as they choose. However the basics such as the menus and widgets must meet the Android 4.0 standards. Android 4.0 is without a doubt a stunning OS that should be enjoyed relatively at its simplest level. Well done Google, well done.

[via Android Developers Blog]

Android UI Lead Developer Gives A Shrug For Custom Android Skins By OEMs





Ice Cream Sandwich is undoubtedly Google’s best OS yet. The notable enhancements and improvements seen here over the previous versions are no doubt welcomed and loved by even the most advanced Android users. While the Android 4.0 build is seen on the Galaxy Nexus (and now Nexus S) only, we can expect the new OS to be fired up on new and existing devices from other manufacturers within the next few weeks. However, while we can look forward to ICS being on our favorite OEMs such as HTC, Motorola and Samsung, we also will not be looking forward to the customizations– also known as “skins”– each brand will place on the OS. Whether we like it or not, we will see Sense, (MOTO)BLUR, and TouchWiz which most agree detracts from the overall Android experience. It’s no secret that most of us strongly dislike the different skins each manufacturers place on otherwise stellar devices, but what do the head honchos of Android development think? Well, you’re about to find out. The Daily Beast hosted a Google+ hangout featuring Matias Duarte, the Android UI Lead Developer. Duarte was kind enough to take questions from a lucky few who were invited in the Hangout and was posed a question by Andrew Kameka of Androinca:

 “So much work goes into producing the UI and the changes that you make, and then typically what happens is that the OEM’s put their skins on it and put their own touch. Does it bother you that so much work goes into it and in the end, a lot of consumers don’t interact with the UI as you intended it?”

Great question and one that many like us here at Talk Android would have asked as well. Read on for Duarte’s response and follow-up after the break. Read more

Swap Out Your Old Dialer And Give myDialer Lite for Android A Try

Getting bored of your standard stock dialer?  I’m not a big fan of Sense UI devices these days, I’m more of a stock Android kind of guy.  Especially when it comes to Sense’s dialer. Well, in steps XDA member mozarcik and provides you with an alternative for times like these.  Check out the dev’s app, myDialer Lite for Android.  The newly styled dialer offers quick responses to the touch, detailed call history by contact and supports several languages for your convenience.  In addition, unlike most dialer applications, this one is fully skinnable.  There are currently three skins available to pick from and we expect more will follow in the up and coming months.

myDialer lite is a replacement for dialer app. You can quickly search for contacts by entering part of the name/number

Ready to give it a try?  Here’s the application thread and don’t forget to provide the developer with as much feedback as you can so he/she can improve the application.  Feel free to let us know what you think of it in the comments below.

[via xda]

Google, Listen Up! Here’s A Few Things We’d Like To See In Gmail For Android 2

Last week I couldn’t help but rant about all of the missing features that Gmail for Android was lacking.  The post was extremely well received and a bunch of you guys had no trouble adding, via the comments, what else you thought was missing.  I wanted to take the time, in hopes that Google just might be listening, to post some of those ides below.  Without further ado, here are some other added features mentioned in the comments by you, the ever awesome Talk Android fan.  Even as I write this, the comments just keep flooding in, reflecting how much Android users want to see these features implemented.  Check it out for yourself and don’t hesitate to share any other features you think Gmail might be missing.  Anything in blue is a feature I especially want to see added some time in the near future.   Read more

Google, Listen Up! Here’s A Few Things We’d Like To See In Gmail For Android

As a person who uses Gmail, both on the desktop and on my Android device, I can honestly tell you there is no better Gmail experience on a mobile device than what Android offers.  However, there are a few things I’d like to see implemented in the near future, and by that I mean, very near please.  First and foremost, where in the world is pinch to zoom in the Gmail client?  We’re not sure why this is taking so long to implement, and I’m not a programmer but it doesn’t seem like it’s that entirely difficult to do.  In addition, I would love to see the ability to place different skins and themes over the Gmail client itself much like we can do with the desktop version.  This is just one man’s opinion, but I think developers would jump on board at the opportunity to create some stylish skins for the app.  And heck, I’d even pay a whole buck for one if it was really good.

One of the many other features I would love to see implemented is a “Labs” feature.  Right now, Google navigation offers several items you can try out in Labs for Android smartphones.  You can try out a ruler for measuring distance and a scale bar.  Im sure there are a ton of cool features that would make Labs for Gmail if given the opportunity on the Android OS.  How about some of the features the desktop offers?  Such as changing the color of stars, vacation responders and a snippet option?  Those are just a few things we’d like to see for the time being.  Got anything else you’d like to add. How do you think we can improve or enhance Gmail for Android?  Feel free to leave a comment below.