Android Doze is an unsung hero, saving your battery when you're not using your phone. Third-party apps like Greenify, ForceDoze and Naptime can squeeze even more juice out of your phone, but they can do a whole lot more if you tweak them.
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Gruntier video cards. More powerful CPUs. Higher resolution displays. All this stuff is really important when it comes to enjoying quality 3D experiences, be it video games or virtual reality. But none of it matters if it takes 400 years to download those experiences. Hence why companies such as Google spend a lot of time researching new ways to compress data. Now Google has a new compression library for 3D models — called "Draco" — and it looks very promising.
Android: Google makes some amazing doodles, but every so often they go beyond a drawing. Some doodles include games or an informative piece about the person or holiday they're celebrating. Now, Google can give you a notification whenever there's a cool new one.
Kindle Fire tablets are some of the best, cheapest Android tablets around, but they're limited to Amazon's app store, which is more than lacking compared to the thousands of apps available on the Google Play Store. With a little tweaking, though, you can run any Android app on them. You can even get the entire Google Play Store on some devices.
It's never been a taxing issue to grab the basic Android dev tools — ADB and fastboot — without having to grab the entire SDK from Google. A quick trip to a forum like XDA will fix that up. Still, it'd be nice if Google itself offered these core components separately so you never had to worry about versions, compatibility or even malicious downloads. Well, as of yesterday it does... unofficially.
Windows/Mac/Linux: Google's ADB and fastboot are incredibly powerful command line tools for customising your Android phone. Up until now, these tiny tools have been bundled in the gigantic Android SDK, but Google will finally let you download these tools on their own.
CyanogenMod was the biggest, most widely used custom Android ROM. Now, it has been discontinued, due in part to internal conflicts within Cyanogen Inc. Don't worry, though: A new fork of CyanogenMod called Lineage OS is taking up the mantle, and it will keep most of what you loved about CyanogenMod.
Android: Google Assistant comes with more fun features than its previous counterpart. This year, Google's bringing that same approach to holiday fun. Now you can ask Google where Santa is, or play a virtual dreidel game.
In truth, 2016 was not "The Year of VR." It was the year of the start of VR. Multiple major tech companies released impressive VR systems that were clearly the first of their kind; flawed and fascinating, destined to be improved upon and replaced. The age of immersive technology is upon us, but its future remains uncertain.
Android: For those who root their phones, custom recoveries are a godsend. Few are as useful or as popular as the Team Win Recovery Project (or TWRP), and now you can download a TWRP installer straight from the Play Store.
Google Calendar isn't just for remembering your appointments and meetings any more, because it now has a far more productive feature built into it, one that helps you set goals and work toward them over time. Whether you want to start working out more often or need to finish the David Foster Wallace novel, here's how Google Calendar can help.
iOS/Android: Apple has its own tool to help users switch from Android to iOS, but Google can't get a similar app past the App Store's moderators. Instead, Google just launched a backup tool inside the already-approved Google Drive.