Samsung Galaxy S6 Phone System Update Today

My Samsung Galaxy S6 smartphone was running Android 6.0.1 until today, when the notification reached me, that a System Update was available.

So once I got home, I eagerly installed that, and my phone is now running Android 7.0 – which is also known as Nougat.

I am impressed with this, even though the main feature I see is the screen layout. Obviously, there is more to Android Nougat than that. But, while it seems at first glance that everything worked as planned, I cannot honestly claim that everything is in fact 100%, because I haven’t had the time to test many of the new features yet.

For the moment, I’d say that the update was a success.

There was one detail which I specifically did check. One of the usage habits with which I’ve used Marshmallow and Nougat in the past, was to white-list some of my apps, from Battery Optimization. The reason I need to do this, is my desire to allow some of these apps to run in the background, even though I may not be making any foreground use of them. And, these apps are often older, in that their devs have not adapted them to the newer ways of allowing this to happen. Since modern Android aggressively kills apps that fit this description, my devices have white-lists of apps that should not be killed.

What I did expect is that the update to 7.0 would roll back all my personal white-lists. But I still want them. If the app is too outdated to run on 6.0.1 correctly, then it will probably also be too outdated to run on 7.0 correctly.

It took me a few tries, to find where I can do this.

One of the things which Samsung has done with this update, is to design a UI which is user-friendlier, and also more different from Stock Android, than earlier Samsung versions were. And this means that if I want to find something advanced, I need to poke around in the new settings menu a bit.

I have restored my own preference, that my phone is to have a more extensive white-list, for Battery Optimization, than I feel the Tablet should have. And this relates to the fact that while I do want my phone to send me my many notifications, there is little use if the same notifications are always sounding on the tablet. Chances are, I’ll have my phone in my shirt-pocket, while I’m sitting in front of my tablet. And then, if I want my tablet-view of something that the phone just notified me about, manually activating the corresponding app on the tablet works just fine.

I think that any data-miners might get confused by my habits, of inviting many notifications on my phone, but often not tapping on them, to open the corresponding app-pages. But the way I’m set up, the notification text itself usually gives me enough information, that I can just swipe the notification away, and still have a general sense of what’s going on in the world.

Dirk

(Edit 05/20/2017 : )

Continue reading Samsung Galaxy S6 Phone System Update Today

Testing the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 external sound device, with my Samsung S6 Smart-Phone

I have tested, whether this external USB recording tool, works with my Samsung Galaxy S6 Smart-Phone, using an ‘‘ OTG adapter. The results were mixed. In An Earlier Posting, I had tested whether this external USB Sound Card, works under Linux. And the answer to that question was a resounding Yes.

Scarlett 2i2 _1

When we plug an OTG adapter into a smart-phone or tablet, this puts the mobile device into Master / Host Mode, that would otherwise normally work in Slave Mode. Thus, we can then plug in a USB storage device, and hopefully have that recognized, while by default, we can only plug our mobile device into a computer, and have the computer recognize this mobile device, as the storage device.

But it is also plausible to connect other external devices to our mobile device, when using an OTG adapter. All this happens because the OTG adapter itself contains an additional chip, that gives it the ability to act as a USB Host. Whether such external devices will work or not, generally depends on two factors:

  1. Whether the micro-USB port on the mobile device can output enough current, to supply the external / Slave device, and
  2. Whether the mobile device possesses the drivers needed, for the USB device in question. Under Linux, this last question is more likely to be answered in the affirmative.

The OTG adapter I was using, uses its micro-USB side as the only power-supply. This means that if the connected device draws a full 500mA of supply current, we are pushing the limit, that is generally set for USB 2.0  PC ports.

Continue reading Testing the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 external sound device, with my Samsung S6 Smart-Phone

My Samsung Galaxy S6 Phone is behaving better between Reboots now.

One of the facts which I had reported to personal friends in recent months, was that I needed to reboot my phone frequently. This led to some puzzlement, because many owners of computers and smart-phones, and tablets, realize that in general, each of these device-categories should be able to run for extended periods of time. Back then, I was rebooting my phone, almost every week.

What I now find, is that I do not need to reboot it as often as I used to, and the reason for this is somewhat obscured, in that I also never really stated, why I needed to reboot it before.

One app I use a lot, is ““. The behavior of this app in the past was, that after having played songs several hundred times, it would just refuse to keep doing so, and would cut out on me, until I did my reboot. My instinctive response to this was to assume, that Android could easily be prone to memory leaks.

But what I seem to have learned, is that some update to this exact app in the past few months, completely fixed this behavior. So this was actually just due to a bug in one app.

The fact has been recorded, that by now I am using Bluetooth Headphones to listen to my walking-around music, instead of cheap ones that just plugged in to the headphone jack. But I also recall, that immediately after making the switch in headphones, this behavior of no longer playing music, did not stop. This behavior continued even after I had switched to the BT Headphones.

But in a related way, I once had a reason to reboot which was not fully related: Power consumption would increase, and grow intolerable. My explanation for this remains, that I have hundreds of apps installed, many of which run in the background, but after a reboot, some of the triggers are not set, that will cause these to do so. Only after several days of normal use, do programs run, which would like for the device to wake up later, so that the same program can run in the background. And so the power consumption will plateau at some level, which I was finding bothersome.

Well it is not likely, that the overall model would have changed, by which Android schedules programs to run in the background. Yet, now that I am walking around with my Bluetooth Headphones, I find that the power consumption is tolerable as well, in spite of not having rebooted for several weeks.

The only explanation I can think of for this second improvement, is that the 16-Ω headphones I was using before, must have been requiring a high drain on the battery in the phone, just to drive the headphones themselves.

OTOH, When I am using my BT Headphones to listen to music constantly, their drivers are being powered by a separate battery, belonging to the headphones themselves. Hence, the actual phone seems to be spared some amount of power drain.

Obviously, my BT Headphones are using Bluetooth 4, which consumes much less power than BT 2 did. But I had not imagined that the improvements would be as dramatic as they have become.

Dirk

Please Note: I would not recommend that people buy Bluetooth Headphones, specifically to listen to music, unless the readers have also assured themselves that their new headphones also use A Suitable CODEC, which allows them to appreciate the music in High Fidelity. Standard BT Heaphones are designed for making phone calls and little else.

(Edit 09/02/2016 : ) I should also add, that before making the switch to my Bluetooth Headphones, I typically had the Bluetooth feature of my phone turned on anyway, to enable it to access my “Vivofit” tracking bracelet. Thus, adding the headphones did not add the need for more chips to be turned on than already were, and both the Vivofit bracelet and my BT Headphones, use Bluetooth 4.

 

I have just received my NFC Tags.

In This Posting, I wrote that I had ordered NFC Tags from a seller in Australia, just to assure the maximum compatibility with the Android Apps named “NFC Tools” and “NFC Tasks”. Also, this exact brand of Tags (“Whiztags”) seems to have a high number of bytes stored, as far as domestically-used Tags go.

Just as a recap, I should say that Tags can store a small amount of data, which can be read by our device as we use the NFC scanning capability that must first exist in hardware. And this can be similar to how QR Codes can be used. Even though NFC Tags can easily store a small message, in practice we are more likely to store a URL, which when read back in, causes content to display which is visible openly on the Internet. Or, we can also store commands, which our own devices are supposed to carry out, when we tap our device on the Tag.

In the latter case, which I was hoping to start using eventually, it is important that the App which carries out the stored commands, in my case NFC Tasks, be 100% compatible with the App that was used to store those, in my case NFC Tools, as there is no worldwide standard for how commands or automated sequences of tasks, are to be stored. URLs, obviously, at least conform to such a standard.

Well my Tags just arrived in the mail for me. Nobody said that the shipment from Australia was supposed to be extremely fast, and in fact I believe that having purchased these at an extremely good price, pretty much ruled out that they would get shipped to me fast as well.

So now I can start experimenting with programming physically existent Tags, hopefully in a way that will make my use of my phone more practical.

I have to admit though, that before my Tags arrived, I had already started using the App named “Tasker”, along with some of its plugins, to automate and accelerate certain uses I have for my phone, without requiring any NFC Tags per se. Tasker tasks can be triggered just by tapping on an icon, or in my case, when the phone detects that it is charging wirelessly, or when I plug in my headphones…

Yet, there is a limit to how many icons I would want to have taking up space on the limited screen-space of my phone, so that I could conceivably still fine-tune what I want to use the phone for, by preparing several actual Tags, to do what Tasker can also do more or less.

One severe limitation to using NFC Tags however, is the standard fact, that the phone must be unlocked, before the Tag is tapped, before tapping the Tag can cause our phones to do anything. This is just common sense to protect the users. For example, if our phone is set up to make a card payment, by way of NFC, we would also want to make sure that not just anybody can initiate such a financial transaction, without having to unlock a locked phone first.

Well these Tags, by way of the App I installed, can tell my phone to change its settings and do various things which could undermine my security, if I had not programmed them themselves. So just as with the electronic payment card, there needs to be some sort of safeguard in place.

The NFC Tasks App offers an additional safeguard, in that its user can choose to enforce a whitelist, of tags that are authorized to give commands. I intend to use the whitelist feature as well, just so that no hypothetical interloper slips in a tag which I would not have programmed myself…

 


 

Also, there is another observation which I should add. The way the use of these Tags is popularly described, we should tap them with our phones. This would suggest that the Tags, which have an adhesive back, should be attached to a hard surface of some kind, because directly from the seller, they come as soft, thin pieces of plastic, which should not even be bent. It would also imply, that an accelerometer in the phone detects a physical tap, to trigger some NFC-realted service to start scanning for the Tag, which has no internal power source of its own.

These tags have arrived with a key-chain pendant, as advertized, that can act as a semi-hard backing, should I in fact attach one of the tags to this key-chain. I have discovered that the key-chain ornament is itself a tag of equal capacity, which can be verified by just approaching it to the phone while the app is waiting to read tags. Its stats will be displayed just as those of the softer tags. Because of that, It would be a critical error to attach another tag to the key-chain. If one did so, this would superpose two tags, and possibly make both unusable.

But the description of having to tap an NFC-related object physically, has been in error in the past. When I use my phone to make a payment for example, I only need to hold the phone in the vicinity of the store card reader, not tap it.

I have not yet been convinced, that the accelerometer in my phone triggers its NFC coil in practice. It could just as easily be, that the vicinity of one of my Tags will trigger the phone, or else – that the phone might fail to trigger for some unknown reason. If the last thing happens, I will need to troubleshoot.

Dirk

(Edit : ) The “Whiztags” which I have received, store up to 924 Bytes each, in pages of 4 bytes, and were sold to me as “A package of 10, plus one bonus tag”. This essentially means that I received 11 tags for the price of 11, including the key-chain pendant. They are color-coded for easy recognition, and the one which I have just now programmed, received 120 Bytes worth of tasks from me, which are allocated as 30 pages.

The softer tags have a very thin 3M-labelled backing, which should be peeled off gently, even though the backing itself adheres strongly, to reveal a clean adhesive surface, with which they can be attached to a clean hard object.

The key-chain that was included in my deal, serves as a possible place to attach one tag in this way. (No! See above comment!)

As I suspected, a strong touching motion or impact between the tag and the phone is neither required nor desired. It is only preferable to know where the NFC coil is located on our phone, in order for the tag to be recognized and processed – within a fraction of a second. On a Samsung Galaxy S6 Phone, this sweet spot is in the middle, of the top half of the phone.

Once a tag approaches there, it is processed exactly as advertized – in my young experience. By now I have also learned: Sometimes, if an operation on a tag seems to be taking too long, the app is actually waiting for the detected tag to be distanced, which the user may still be holding to the device from a prior operation. And then, if the tag is approached anew, the requested operation only takes a fraction of a second again.