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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

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Google launches new My Activity site, reaffirms Google knows basically everything about you

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 02:50 PM PDT

myact

Google knows a lot about you - particular about the "you" on the internet. A new site launched today called My Activity lets you get some insight on just what some of that information is - in a readable sense - by showing you your various web, Google product (including Google Android apps), and search activities in a rather pretty card timeline. The site works on both desktop and mobile.

The My Activity site (here) shows all this information, but it also acts a link hub for Google's various data-collecting services you can choose to turn on or off.

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Google launches new My Activity site, reaffirms Google knows basically everything about you was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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If Zootopia and Mortal Kombat had a bastard child, it would be mobile one-on-one fighter Animelee

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 02:50 PM PDT

image (5)I recall with fondness the endless speculative arguments I heard around the elementary school lunch table in the 90s: who would win in a fight between Batman and Wolverine? Goku and Superman? Bill Clinton and Emilio Estevez? (There was always that one weird kid.) Imagine the same arguments happening in a university zoology department, and you might just find the inspiration for Animelee, an old-fashioned one-on-one fighter recently published in the Play Store.

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If Zootopia and Mortal Kombat had a bastard child, it would be mobile one-on-one fighter Animelee was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Mini Review Of The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 Gaming Laptop

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 02:15 PM PDT

fg05

Disclaimer: Yes, I know this site is geared towards Canadians who just happen to be Android enthusiasts but I think this product review can still fit in just fine.

ASUS has been making laptops for as long as I can remember and even their gaming laptops have earned a very large following in the PC gaming world. In 2006, the Taiwanese company unveiled a special branding specifically meant for those into PC gaming and called it Republic of Gamers (ROG). It actually turned out to be a huge success for the company since back then, laptops were extremely inferior to their desktop counterparts when it came to gaming performance.

Now ten years later, ASUS has officially released their newest ROG laptop, called the GL502. Let me tell you the specs now, because on paper, they are outright amazing.

fg (1)

First off, the ASUS ROG Strix GL502 features a 15.6-inch 1920×1080 IPS panel with a matte finish to help prevent annoying glares from various light sources.

Next is Intel's newest and most powerful mobile Skylake processor, the i7-6700HQ which has a base clock of 2.6 GHz and turbos to about 3.5 GHz depending on the work load. This is complemented by NVIDIA's last generation Maxwell mobile GPU, the 970M. Additionally, the laptop I received was configured with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, 1TB HDD and a 6 cell battery.

In terms of features, it comes with an illuminated chiclet keyboard (which I'll talk about later), 802.11b/b/n/ac WiFi, gigabit ethernet and Bluetooth 4.0. As for ports, it came with a single 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack, 3 USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB-C, 1 HDMI, 1 x mini display port, 1 SD card reader an an AC adapter.

The laptop weighs around 2.2kg, or roughly five pounds, and surprisingly sports a very slim profile similar to what you find on ultrabooks.

First impressions:

After using the laptop for two full weeks, I took the performance of the 6700HQ and the 16GB of RAM for granted. With pretty much every workload, the processor handled it like a champ. With roughly 200 Chrome tabs opened, I saw almost no slowdowns and the responsiveness of the laptop was no different to when nothing was open. I played a couple of games from my Steam library almost regularly and maxed out the graphics settings and while the GTX 970M did get hot, the laptop's air cooling system made sure it did not reach the thermal threshold.

As for storage, the 1TB hard drive was more than enough for my initial testing and read/write speeds were accpetable for an HDD. My only complaint is the laptop could have largely benefitted from an SSD and it's too bad my unit did not come with one.

fg

While I mostly used the laptop with my own monitor, mouse and keyboard, I still had the chance to try out ASUS' scissor switch keyboard. The key presses were a lot more tactile compared to regular rubber dome laptop key switches and I enjoyed typing on it whenever I could. As for the display, the 1920×1080 matte display did its job without any issues or complaints but with a laptop of this calibre, I feel ASUS should have at least provided an option with QHD (2560 x 1440).

Unfortunately, I had a lot of frustrations with the trackpad. I couldn't believe how it could be so unpolished in terms of scrolling and zooming and the buttons themselves felt very cheap. Not to mention that it was completely useless for gaming and that's where my trusty Logitech G502 came in handy.

Another major disappointment was ASUS' preinstalled applications, which these days is better known as bloatware. It was absolutely unacceptable to notice the 6700HQ struggling to open Microsoft Office with applications like ASUS Giftbox, liveupdate, screensaver, McAfee, Webstorage and other annoying stuff running in the background. I could only get a true feel for the laptop's potential performance after doing a clean install of Windows 10 and uninstalling almost every built in application provided by ASUS. Once that was done, I was very happy.

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Summary:

Pros: i7-6700HQ, 16GB RAM, 1TB HDD, 1080p display, keyboard with LED lighting, GTX 970M, surprisingly good heat management, weight, overall design and build quality.
Cons: Bloatware bloatware bloatware, trackpad, under average battery life, few usb ports, no SSD by default.

All in all, I still enjoyed using and reviewing this laptop and I would be ecstatic if ASUS could really cut down on their preinstalled applications. Once those are removed, the laptop's performance is mind blowing and can even replace traditional desktop gaming PCs while being suprisingly light and thin and of course, good looking.

You can now purchase the ASUS ROG Strix GL502 from NCIX for $1849.98 although MSRP is $1799.

The post Mini Review Of The ASUS ROG Strix GL502 Gaming Laptop appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.


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Wileyfox introduces the Spark family, powered by Cyanogen OS

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 02:15 PM PDT

Wileyfox likely isn't a name you've heard, but the British start-up is beginning to make a name for itself. The company uses CyanogenOS to power its new family of smartphones, the Spark family. This series includes the Spark, Spark+ and the Spark X, all of which are affordably priced and reasonably specced. Let's take a look at the base model Spark.

  • 5-inch 720p IPS display
  • 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek processor
  • 1GB of RAM
  • 8GB of storage plus a microSD card slot
  • 8-megapixel rear camera
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • 22oomAh battery
  • Dual microSIM card slot
  • Cyanogen OS 13/Android 6.0 Marshmallow

As you can see, the Wileyfox Spark is midrange. But its price might make up for it. Wileyfox has the Spark priced at just £89.99 or €119.99.

The Spark+ doubles the storage and RAM to 16GB and 2GB, respectively. The rear camera is also bumped up to 13-megapixels. The Spark X takes all the specs of the Spark+, but bumps up the display size to 5.5 inches and also boosts the battery capacity to 3000mAh.

Pricing for the Wileyfox Spark+ is set at £114.99 or €149.99. Pricing for the Wileyfox Spark X is set at £129.99 or €169.99. The Wileyfox Spark is now up for pre-order through Amazon, with orders shipping on July 12.


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Humble PC & Android Bundle 14 includes Badland, You Must Build A Boat, Please Don't Touch Anything, and more

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 02:10 PM PDT

2016-06-28 15_50_01-Humble PC & Android Bundle 14 (pay what you want and help charity)

There's a new Humble Bundle that is relevant to our interests! The Humble PC & Android Bundle 14 is now live, and it includes eight games out of the gate with more being added later. Because this is a PC and Android bundle, you get all the included games on both platforms.

This bundle has a slightly more complicated pricing structure than most. You can pay anything to unlock the bottom tier of games, which includes 100000000, Badland, and SPACECOM.

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Humble PC & Android Bundle 14 includes Badland, You Must Build A Boat, Please Don't Touch Anything, and more was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Cerberus anti theft gets fingerprint sensor support, Android N features, and bug fixes in version 3.4

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 02:10 PM PDT

imageCerberus is the go-to third party solution for theft deterrent and recovery on Android. With such a security-focused app, it's surprising that it didn't feature support for Android's native fingerprint sensor API before now. That's changed with version 3.4 of the app, now available in the Play Store. Users on Android 6.0 or later (with compatible hardware, of course) can use a fingerprint scan to authenticate the app.

Other changes in the update are smaller.

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Cerberus anti theft gets fingerprint sensor support, Android N features, and bug fixes in version 3.4 was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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More Galaxy Note 7 Specs Leak, Snapdragon 821 With 6GB RAM And USB Type C

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 01:55 PM PDT

note7_typeface

Just a day after we shared news of the Galaxy Note 7 name confirmation, another leak making its way from China has revealed even more about Samsung's upcoming flagship smartphone.

gnote7

A user on Weibo has shared some of the basic but important specs for the Galaxy Note 7. First off, the phone will come with a 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display with the Snapdragon 821 SoC. The S821 is really just a newer and more efficient Snapdragon 820 so there's really nothing that special there.

Next is the RAM and Samsung will join ASUS and OnePlus in offering a phone with a whopping 6GB of RAM built in. As for internal storage options, they are 64GB/128GB and now 256GB. The camera is going to be the same 12MP rear/5MP front shooter from the Galaxy S7 and so will be the IP68 water and dust resistance. The battery is also going to be quite massive, coming in at 4,000 mAh which will be charged by the USB Type C port.

The phone is going to be launched on August 2nd in New York.

[Weibo / Sammyworld]

The post More Galaxy Note 7 Specs Leak, Snapdragon 821 With 6GB RAM And USB Type C appeared first on Android in Canada Blog.


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Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus now available to pre-order in the U.S.

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 01:13 PM PDT

Back in May, Motorola made the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus official, and now folks in the United States who want to get their hands on one of the new Moto phones can pre-order one of their own.

That's right, both the Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus are available on Motorola's official website and can be customized through Moto Maker to create that device you really want. Prices start at $199 for the 16GB Moto G4, with the highest-end option being the 64GB Moto G4 Plus with 4GB of RAM, which will set your wallet back $299.99.

If you order now, your device should arrive by July 12. If you happen to be a Republic Wireless subscriber, Motorola says both devices will be available for the carrier on July 28.

The differences between the devices are worth noting. The Moto G4 Plus features a fingerprint sensor below the display, while the Moto G4 doesn't. Additionally, the Moto G4 Plus boasts a 16-megapixel camera on the back, while the Moto G4 features a 13-megapixel shooter. And lastly, the Moto G4 Plus with 64GB of built-in storage offers up 4GB of RAM, while the Moto G4 tops out at 2GB of RAM.

Do you plan on picking either model up?


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Amazon Page Flip lets you skim an ebook without losing your place

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 12:00 PM PDT

2016-06-28 13_41_05-Explore Kindle with Page Flip - YouTube

There are some things you can do with a dead tree book that you can't do with the Kindle app. For example, get a paper cut or flip quickly between two pages. Actually, Amazon has figured out how to make the app do one of those things. Don't fret, your fingers are safe; it's the second one. Amazon's new Page Flip feature lets you jump to a different page while reading, then go back to your previous location.

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Amazon Page Flip lets you skim an ebook without losing your place was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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[Evernope] Price increase coming to Evernote plans, free plan now limited to 2 devices only

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 11:20 AM PDT

Web-Evernote-Tutorial

Evernote has announced several changes to its plan structure today that will most likely upset many long-time users. The cost of Plus and Premium plans will be going up, and the free Basic plan is getting much less useful with active device limits. When there are so many other options for note taking apps, this is going to be a hard sell.

Evernote has three tiers; Basic, Plus, and Premium. The most expensive Premium plan is going from $49.99 per year to $69.99 per year (monthly $5.99 to $7.99).

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[Evernope] Price increase coming to Evernote plans, free plan now limited to 2 devices only was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Android Pay is now available in Singapore

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 09:14 AM PDT

Google went to go all-in with mobile payments when it launched Android Pay in the United States near the end of 2015. Since then, Android Pay has gained support from more U.S. banks and credit unions, but its international rollout is taking a more measured approach.

Android Pay officially launched in the United Kingdom last month, and now it's rolling out in another country: Singapore. As of this writing, Android Pay is is available to use at any checkout spot in Singapore that accepts contactless payments. Singapore is the first country in Asia to support Android Pay, and we hope that its adoption in the region will expand quickly.

Android users in Singapore will need to have an Android handset that's running Android 6.0 Marshmallow and a handset that supports NFC to use Android Pay. Just download the Android Pay app from the Play Store, then add your credit or debit cards that you'd like to use.

Android Pay is now available in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore. Google has confirmed that Android Pay is headed to Australia next, but there's no firm launch date just yet.


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Latest Android update for Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel brings IRM support, home screen shortcuts to files, and Word can now open TXT files

Posted: 28 Jun 2016 05:54 AM PDT

Screenshot__Jun_28__2016_8_04_19_AM_

Microsoft continues to hammer away at its Android offerings, this time with monthly updates to its office suite. There's no earth-shaking changes here, but as usual regular users are going to appreciate these. The most broadly useful is the new ability to put shortcuts to Office files on your home screen, much like on your desktop computers. For the business types, each of the three apps can now open IRM-protected files.

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Latest Android update for Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel brings IRM support, home screen shortcuts to files, and Word can now open TXT files was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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Google Fit v1.57 rolls out with a major visual redesign, improved goals, and a configurable widget [APK Download]

Posted: 27 Jun 2016 10:31 PM PDT

fit

It's been a long time since we last saw an update to Google Fit, but after some subtle hints during the Android Wear presentations during Google I/O, it was fairly obvious something big was in the works. An update to v1.57 just started rolling out and it may just be the start of a whole new Fit. There are huge changes to the look and at least a few changes to features.

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Google Fit v1.57 rolls out with a major visual redesign, improved goals, and a configurable widget [APK Download] was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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29 new and notable (and 1 WTF) Android apps and live wallpapers from the last 2 weeks (6/14/16 - 6/27/16)

Posted: 27 Jun 2016 08:39 PM PDT

roundup_icon_largeWelcome to the roundup of the best new Android applications, games, and live wallpapers that went live in the Play Store or were spotted by us in the previous 2 weeks or so.

Please wait for this page to load in full in order to see the widgets, which include ratings and pricing info.

Looking for the previous roundup editions? Find them here.

Featured App

Expense IQ

This week's roundup is brought to you by Expense IQ from HandyApps.

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29 new and notable (and 1 WTF) Android apps and live wallpapers from the last 2 weeks (6/14/16 - 6/27/16) was written by the awesome team at Android Police.


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T-Mobile updates Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Note Edge to Marshmallow

Posted: 27 Jun 2016 04:20 PM PDT

T-Mobile is updating both the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the Galaxy Note Edge to Marshmallow today! The two devices are almost two years old at this point, but T-Mobile and Samsung are bringing them to the latest version of Android.

Marshmallow includes features like Doze mode for improved battery life, customizable app permissions for better security, Google Now on Tap, better volume controls, and a lot of tweaks and improvements for better performance and smoothness.

Both devices' updates are over 1.5GB, so be sure to use Wi-Fi to download them.

Source: T-Mobile (2)


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Android changes for NDK developers

Posted: 27 Jun 2016 03:57 PM PDT

Posted by Dmitry Malykhanov, Developer Advocate

Related to other improvements to the Android platform, the dynamic linker in Android M and N has stricter requirements for writing clean, cross-platform compatible native code in order to load. It is necessary that an application's native code follows the rules and recommendations in order to ensure a smooth transition to recent Android releases.

Below we outline in detail each individual change related to native code loading, the consequences and steps you can take to avoid issues.

Required tools: there is an <arch>-linux-android-readelf binary (e.g. arm-linux-androideabi-readelf or i686-linux-android-readelf) for each architecture in the NDK (under toolchains/), but you can use readelf for any architecture, as we will be doing basic inspection only. On Linux you need to have the "binutils" package installed for readelf, and "pax-utils" for scanelf.

Private API (Enforced since API 24)

Native libraries must use only public API, and must not link against non-NDK platform libraries. Starting with API 24 this rule is enforced and applications are no longer able to load non-NDK platform libraries. The rule is enforced by the dynamic linker, so non-public libraries are not accessible regardless of the way code tries to load them: System.loadLibrary(...), DT_NEEDED entries, and direct calls to dlopen(...) will fail in exactly the same way.

Users should have a consistent app experience across updates, and developers shouldn't have to make emergency app updates to handle platform changes. For that reason, we recommend against using private C/C++ symbols. Private symbols aren't tested as part of the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) that all Android devices must pass. They may not exist, or they may behave differently. This makes apps that use them more likely to fail on specific devices, or on future releases --- as many developers found when Android 6.0 Marshmallow switched from OpenSSL to BoringSSL.

In order to reduce the user impact of this transition, we've identified a set of libraries that see significant use from Google Play's most-installed apps, and that are feasible for us to support in the short term (including libandroid_runtime.so, libcutils.so, libcrypto.so, and libssl.so). In order to give you more time to transition, we will temporarily support these libraries; so if you see a warning that means your code will not work in a future release -- please fix it now!


$ readelf --dynamic libBroken.so | grep NEEDED
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libnativehelper.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libutils.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libstagefright_foundation.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libmedia_jni.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [liblog.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libdl.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libz.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libstdc++.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libm.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libc.so]

Potential problems: starting from API 24 the dynamic linker will not load private libraries, preventing the application from loading.

Resolution: rewrite your native code to rely only on public API. As a short term workaround, platform libraries without complex dependencies (libcutils.so) can be copied to the project. As a long term solution the relevant code must be copied to the project tree. SSL/Media/JNI internal/binder APIs should not be accessed from the native code. When necessary, native code should call appropriate public Java API methods.

A complete list of public libraries is available within the NDK, under platforms/android-API/usr/lib.

Note: SSL/crypto is a special case, applications must NOT use platform libcrypto and libssl libraries directly, even on older platforms. All applications should use GMS Security Provider to ensure they are protected from known vulnerabilities.

Missing Section Headers (Enforced since API 24)

Each ELF file has additional information contained in the section headers. These headers must be present now, because the dynamic linker uses them for sanity checking. Some developers try to strip them in an attempt to obfuscate the binary and prevent reverse engineering. (This doesn't really help because it is possible to reconstruct the stripped information using widely-available tools.)


$ readelf --header libBroken.so | grep 'section headers'
Start of section headers: 0 (bytes into file)
Size of section headers: 0 (bytes)
Number of section headers: 0
$

Resolution: remove the extra steps from your build that strip section headers.

Text Relocations (Enforced since API 23)

Starting with API 23, shared objects must not contain text relocations. That is, the code must be loaded as is and must not be modified. Such an approach reduces load time and improves security.

The usual reason for text relocations is non-position independent hand-written assembler. This is not common. Use the scanelf tool as described in our documentation for further diagnostics:


$ scanelf -qT libTextRel.so
libTextRel.so: (memory/data?) [0x15E0E2] in (optimized out: previous simd_broken_op1) [0x15E0E0]
libTextRel.so: (memory/data?) [0x15E3B2] in (optimized out: previous simd_broken_op2) [0x15E3B0]
[skipped the rest]

If you have no scanelf tool available, it is possible to do a basic check with readelf instead, look for either a TEXTREL entry or the TEXTREL flag. Either alone is sufficient. (The value corresponding to the TEXTREL entry is irrelevant and typically 0 --- simply the presence of the TEXTREL entry declares that the .so contains text relocations). This example has both indicators present:


$ readelf --dynamic libTextRel.so | grep TEXTREL
0x00000016 (TEXTREL) 0x0
0x0000001e (FLAGS) SYMBOLIC TEXTREL BIND_NOW
$

Note: it is technically possible to have a shared object with the TEXTREL entry/flag but without any actual text relocations. This doesn't happen with the NDK, but if you're generating ELF files yourself make sure you're not generating ELF files that claim to have text relocations, because the Android dynamic linker trusts the entry/flag.

Potential problems: Relocations enforce code pages being writable, and wastefully increase the number of dirty pages in memory. The dynamic linker has issued warnings about text relocations since Android K (API 19), but on API 23 and above it refuses to load code with text relocations.

Resolution: rewrite assembler to be position independent to ensure no text relocations are necessary. Check the Gentoo documentation for cookbook recipes.

Invalid DT_NEEDED Entries (Enforced since API 23)

While library dependencies (DT_NEEDED entries in the ELF headers) can be absolute paths, that doesn't make sense on Android because you have no control over where your library will be installed by the system. A DT_NEEDED entry should be the same as the needed library's SONAME, leaving the business of finding the library at runtime to the dynamic linker.

Before API 23, Android's dynamic linker ignored the full path, and used only the basename (the part after the last '/') when looking up the required libraries. Since API 23 the runtime linker will honor the DT_NEEDED exactly and so it won't be able to load the library if it is not present in that exact location on the device.

Even worse, some build systems have bugs that cause them to insert DT_NEEDED entries that point to a file on the build host, something that cannot be found on the device.


$ readelf --dynamic libSample.so | grep NEEDED
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libm.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libc.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library: [libdl.so]
0x00000001 (NEEDED) Shared library:
[C:\Users\build\Android\ci\jni\libBroken.so]
$

Potential problems: before API 23 the DT_NEEDED entry's basename was used, but starting from API 23 the Android runtime will try to load the library using the path specified, and that path won't exist on the device. There are broken third-party toolchains/build systems that use a path on a build host instead of the SONAME.

Resolution: make sure all required libraries are referenced by SONAME only. It is better to let the runtime linker to find and load those libraries as the location may change from device to device.

Missing SONAME (Used since API 23)

Each ELF shared object ("native library") must have a SONAME (Shared Object Name) attribute. The NDK toolchain adds this attribute by default, so its absence indicates either a misconfigured alternative toolchain or a misconfiguration in your build system. A missing SONAME may lead to runtime issues such as the wrong library being loaded: the filename is used instead when this attribute is missing.


$ readelf --dynamic libWithSoName.so | grep SONAME
0x0000000e (SONAME) Library soname: [libWithSoName.so]
$

Potential problems: namespace conflicts may lead to the wrong library being loaded at runtime, which leads to crashes when required symbols are not found, or you try to use an ABI-incompatible library that isn't the library you were expecting.

Resolution: the current NDK generates the correct SONAME by default. Ensure you're using the current NDK and that you haven't configured your build system to generate incorrect SONAME entries (using the -soname linker option).

Please remember, clean, cross-platform code built with a current NDK should have no issues on Android N. We encourage you to revise your native code build so that it produces correct binaries.


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