In March, we reasoned that Android Nougat’s Freeform window feature wasn’t worth the effort. But that was before an indie developer did what Google hoped vendors would do and created Taskbar, an app that just might make freeform useful.
Freeform window mode was one of a handful of features found abandoned deep within the bowels of the Android N developer preview. It enables you to take Android N’s new multitasking features to the next level by shrinking and expanding foreground apps for a desktop experience on your mobile device.
Our Kris Carlon trekked deep into the heart of the Android N Preview to find Freeform back in March. However, his bleak journal notes on the feature were littered with terms such as “buggy,” “unstable,” “freezes” and “steer clear.”
While it appears Freeform is raw and unready for prime time, developer Braden Farmer has incorporated the feature into his Taskbar app.
It has the potential to be a pleasant compliment to Freeform that could potentially bring desktop-style productivity to mobile. The Taskbar app offers what is essentially a start menu and app tray that are always available in a tap. This lets you navigate between tasks in a much more natural way than Nougat’s standard interface.
While Taskbar and Freeform both have their issues, the former makes it a little easier for you to make use of the later. When you install taskbar, you can launch Freeform without having root access or needing to walk through ADB commands.
If you’re running Nougat, click the button below to snag Taskbar from the Google Play Store.
Last July, the Indian government launched DigiLocker, an online locker for your government documents like Aadhaar card, Pan card and more. Now DigiLocker has collaborated with the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to let you upload soft copies of your driving licenses and vehicle registration papers.
DigiLocker’s Android app has been updated with the new functionality. You can sign up on the DigiLocker Android app, which verifies your phone number via an OTP. After verifying your number, you’ll need to enter your Aadhaar card (Unique Identification Authority of India) details into the app, and then you can upload your documents. It basically is a secure cloud storage platform where any Aadhaar card user can get 1GB of space to store their documents digitally.
DigiLocker lets users sync their essential documents like driving license, vehicle registration papers, certificates, PAN card, voter ID card, and more. Once your state equips police and other officials with their own version of DigiLocker to verify these documents, you’ll be able to leave your physical documents behind when you’re driving.
Linux can now sync notifications from your Android phone and reply to SMS messages. It works just like Cortana does between Windows 10 PCs and Android phones, and like Apple’s Continuity feature works between Macs and iPhones.
KDE Connect brings Linux and Android together
Despite the name, KDE Connect isn’t just for KDE Plasma desktop users. You can install KDE Connect on any Linux desktop environment. After that, you’ll just need to install the KDE Connect app for Android from the Google Play Store.
With KDE Connect on your Linux PC and Android phone, you’ll be able to link them together. Notifications you receive on your Android phone will appear on your Linux PC. If you receive an SMS message on your phone, you’ll see it on your Linux PC and you can respond to it from Linux. KDE Connect also offers other useful features, like the ability to trigger custom commands and use your phone as a media controller remote. The connection is made without any servers—your phone and PC connect directly to each other using TLS encryption over the local network.
This application has been in development for years, and the project recently released KDE Connect 1.0, which added the much-anticipated SMS-reply feature as well as strong encryption. It can even push notifications from your Linux desktop to your phone, so you’ll get a ping on your phone whenever a notification occurs on your desktop.
The Kubutnu Backports PPA will reportedly offer the latest KDE Connect 1.0 package soon, making it easy to install on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. You’ll just need to add the PPA and install the package. An older version of KDE Connect without the SMS-reply feature, but with notification sync, is also available in the main Ubuntu 16.04 LTS repositories.
The new iPhone 6S and 6S Plus come with Apple’s 3D Touch and the Apple Watch also features Force Touch technology and now it would appear that the technology could be headed to Android smartphones next year.
Synaptics has announced their new ClearForce technology which is similar to Apple’s 3D Touch and the company is already manufacturing display with this technology built in.
“Our broad patent portfolio and years of proven experience in touch technology has once again enabled us to provide smartphone OEMs and LCMs with cutting-edge user experience solutions,” said Kevin Barber, senior vice president, general manager, Smart Display Division, Synaptics. “The latest ClearPad family of products extends into multiple market segments with exciting new functionality and underscores Synaptics’ innovation and leadership in creating unmatched touch solutions.”
As yet there are no details on which Android smartphones will come with this new Force Touch technology, although we may see it in the new Samsung Galaxy S7 when it launches next year.